Below are examples of Words Into Deeds projects organized by middle- and high school level students at the South Seneca School in Ovid, NY. While most projects were selected and implemented by individual or small teams of students, these examples illustrate those in which a classroom or the entire school participated.

Walk for Water

Assisted by visitors from several east African countries, students learned that in many sub-Saharan countries the girls are assigned responsibility for walking several miles each day to fetch water from the closest well, which prevents them from attending school and are often dangerous. Students “sold” symbolic jugs of water, and over the years raised nearly $11,000 to support access to quality education.

Addressing Food Insecurity

Several times each year students organized a school-wide initiative that asked everyone to bring non-perishable food to a designated storage site on campus. Once amassed, they lined up and passed each item from the school to the local food pantry.

cardboard city

Addressing Housing Insecurity

Being homeless, whether for a short time due to financial crises or of longer duration, has a devastating effect on families yet is often invisible to most people. To help students appreciate and take actions to help mitigate this problem, the school held an annual “Cardboard City” event in the athletic field, in December! Students built temporary shelters our of cardboard boxes and, bundled in blankets or sleeping bags, spent an overnight in the field. Each raised money to support their “housing,” and over the years nearly $10,000 was raised for the local Habitat for Humanity organization.

cardboard city

Gaining Understanding and Empathy for Persons with Special Needs

Each class would often choose one social services organization and, after researching its mission and learning about the persons it serves, raise money to provide needed supplies then schedule a field trip  The examples here show visits to the Canandaigua Veterans Hospital and Arc of Rochester.

cardboard city

Conditions for Migrant Workers in Upstate New York

In coordination with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Social Justice and Human Rights, students studied the lives of migrant workers who come annually to help with apple, grape, and vegetable harvests in upstate New York. They visited several farms and participated in a state-wide march for Farm Workers Rights held in Albany, NY.

Expanding Multi-cultural Understanding Through Music

Visiting musicians brought activities that are common to all societies, such as singing, drumming and dancing, and through school-wide workshops and shared public performances help students learn how different groups and cultures have their unique styles and traditions.

Theo Martey brought his Akwaaba Ensemble of singers, dancers and drummers to the school and held a drum circle to teach students about the importance of drums as both entertainment and instruments of communication in his native country, Ghana. Several students later joined in the community-wide public performance.

Theo Akwaaba

Roxey Ballet Company is a professional group that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion in their membership and performances. They held a school-wide introduction to ballet, which surprised many students who were unaware of the athleticism required for even basic moves. At their community performances, several students were given opportunities for cameo appearances.

Expanding Multi-cultural Understanding Through Visual Arts

Artists also use their depictions to highlight aspects of their country, cultures, or groups. In conjunction with a touring exhibition of artwork by Romani youth living in Rumania, students learned about the many stereotypes – once popular in American films and literature – about people commonly referred to as “Gypsies.” Standing at the right side is Words Into Deeds Board Co-Chair Breana Copp, who organized the event.