November 10, 2016 Sponsors No Comments

Elementary Schools Participation in Literacy Contest Expected To Help Build Habitat Home in Halton

Elementary students from across Halton in each of Catholic, Public and Private schools will be busy this Fall, putting their pencils to paper in an effort to raise enough funds to build a home for a family in need. Grade 4, 5 & 6 students will join the country-wide Genworth Canada Meaning of Home contest by creating an individual poem, essay or video surrounding the topic of “what home means to them”. This incredible contest, now in its 10th year, is targeted to raise enough money to build a Habitat home for a deserving family in need of a safe, decent and affordable place to live.

“We are excited that the Genworth Canada Meaning of Home contest has received such incredible support from our local schools,” says Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga’s CEO John Gerrard. “The annual contest has a proven track record of outstanding and creative submissions from our area. This year, we want to continue that tradition in hopes of building another home in Halton as a result.”

In 2012, Denver Winch, a Grade 5 Oakville student at Rotherglen Oakville Elementary Campus, was one of five runners-up in the annual contest. In 2013, Arvin Bal, a Grade 6 Oakville student at Heritage Glen Public School, was the first-place winner. Denver and Arvin both chose to direct their combined $60,000 winnings to Habitat Halton-Mississauga’s 2014 Pembroke Drive build, with Arvin’s donation covering 50% of the cost for Habitat to build a new home for Christine De Koning and her three kids.

Genworth Corporation and Habitat for Humanity have been committed to this contest for 10 consecutive years. In celebration of its decade anniversary, Genworth will donate a remarkable $10.00 per entry to the local Habitat for Humanity Halton- Mississauga affiliate, raising more money to continue Habitat’s mission in the community.

The Halton Waldorf School in Burlington has already reported growing excitement amongst their students, indicating that the children have been truly inspired by some of the stories of past winners. “Our students are thrilled to participate in this program and make a difference right here in our own community,” says Lylli Anthon, Waldorf School Faculty Chair. “We are very proud that our students are so eager to learn more about what Habitat for Humanity does locally. Not to mention, the classes are excited at the thought of having a winner from their school and how the school could help the community with the prize money if one of their entries is chosen. The contest blends well into our curriculum and our mission to cultivate confidence, creativity and a love of learning.”

Equally, renowned private school Rotherglen, is excited about its students participation this year, particularly as one of their students was a contest winner in the past! When asked about the contest, one of their students remarked that “working on my writing made me really thankful for the home that I live in. I am so excited to know that I can help other families have their dream home.” Another Rotherglen student explained that “in my story, I wrote that home is where the heart is. I think home is more than just all our furniture but it is where your dreams can shout and I want everyone to be able to have their dreams come true.”

With issues surrounding the lack of affordable housing for families and individuals on the rise, Habitat Halton-Mississauga has expanded its mandate to better serve its community. In Halton alone, Habitat will complete the build of its 46th home this fall, including a 13 town home complex on Glendor Avenue in Burlington. On its heels, Habitat will soon embark on 19 more town homes in 2017 on Queensway Drive in Burlington, plus 5 homes in Georgetown and a single family home in Acton that will partner with Community Living North Halton to provide supportive housing for 4 adult gentlemen with Autism.

“We are very blessed to have the incredible support of schools and school boards within our community as we strive to encourage as many students to participate as possible,” explains Gerrard. “Both the Public and Catholic Boards have shown great support in ensuring awareness amongst their schools. In particular, the Halton Catholic School Board has dedicated a committee and done an outstanding job of promoting the contest out to all of their 46 elementary schools and staff and encouraging their participation. This support could mean over 6,568 students in relative grades submitting to the contest and will generate over $65,000 to enable us to a build a new home for a family in their school community.”

“We are so thrilled to be a part of this wonderful community initiative,” says Paula Dawson, Director of Education at the Halton Catholic District School Board. “The Meaning of Home contest provides the opportunity for our students and staff to give back to their own community, through their actions of generosity and compassion.”

If the school’s participation reaches that $65,000 goal, Gerrard has committed to naming a home in honour of the Board and enabling the Board to submit a family recommendation. For children to have the opportunity to participate in something that makes a direct and positive difference in the lives of families and other children in their school systems is an experience they will not forget being a part of. Some of the Grand Prizes for individual winners include a brand new iPad Air 2, Apple Magic Keyboard and Smart cover, a pizza party for their class and $1000 for their school is a reward for their hard work!

The Meaning of Home Contest is open for submissions until November 30th, 2016. For more information on how to easily participate, visit www.meaningofhome.ca or contact personally Melissa Foley at mfoley@habitathm.ca or call (647) 470-8413.

Written by Sarah Golan