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Nelson Place elementary school students making a difference!

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee

Reaching out and caring about others is what we hope our children will learn in their school years; we want them to grow up to be caring and productive citizens. These are qualities that are not measured by MCAS test scores- they are part of educating the whole child.

During the last few years, fourth grade teacher Donna Quitadamo at Nelson Place Elementary School has been working with her students and parents about reaching out to others. Her class led the way in working with “The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.” This organization was created by Paul Newman and his friends in 1988. The camp is located in the state of Connecticut and has served as a non-profit residential summer camp and year-round center for children coping with cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

The camp houses children between the ages of 7 to 15 who attend one of 9 weeklong sessions. The students experience fun-packed days and develop friendships with children like themselves with very caring adults watching over them. In addition, “The Hole in the Wall Gang Hospital Outreach Program brings the hope and playful spirit of camp to seriously-ill hospitalized children throughout the Northeast region. Twelve full-time hospital outreach specialists make weekly visits to the bedsides of ill children to provide games, crafts, companionship, and comfort to these courageous patients. They also provide a much – needed break for parents and give special attention to siblings. Most importantly, they remind kids, who are physically and emotionally drained by the effects of chemotherapy and long hospital stays of what it’s like to be a kid again.

As part of the character education concept, Ms. Quitadamo encouraged her students to look for heroes in their everyday lives and often shared her heroes with them. Thus one day in the fall of 2008 she shared with the present 6th graders that one of her heroes, Paul Newman, had passed away. She told them about the Newman’s Own Foundation and the “Hole In the Wall Gang” Camp. Then in December of the same year, her students published a classroom newspaper which included persuasive essays written by the students that encouraged people to make donations to the “Hole In the Wall Gang.” Continue reading Nelson Place elementary school students making a difference!