Impact Projects Kick Into High Gear
Every year, Chick-fil-A Leader Academy culminates in a final student-led, student-run Impact Project. With this project, students draw on leadership and project management skills they have acquired over the course of the program to create a project that will have an impact on their own communities.
We are proud to highlight a few of the Impact Projects flowing in this year. They demonstrate precisely what students can accomplish when they set their minds on making a difference.
Helping Children With Autism
Hernando High School, Hernando, Mississippi
Hernando High School students will leverage the national exposure of Autism Awareness Month to raise both money and awareness.
The students will host a 5k race in partnership with the school’s Interact Club, and the proceeds will benefit two local organizations: Arc of Northwest Mississippi, a not-for-profit group that works with families of children with special needs, and Retrieving Freedom, an organization that pairs service dogs with children with autism.
Yet for these Chick-fil-A Leader Academy students the most important thing is creating a personal connection in their community. They will do this in three powerful ways:
1. Community: Students will host a pep rally in advance of the 5k race to raise awareness and support. Among the event’s speakers will be students with autism who will share their personal stories. And the 5k race will include an expo to help pair families with the services of local businesses.
2. Time: Students will volunteer their time in the Sensory Room of their local intermediate school. The room is a specially designed, therapeutic space for children with sensory sensitivity, as is often the case with autism. The students will supervise and spend time with the children in the room.
3. Family Support: With the help of Retrieving Freedom, students will help facilitate the placement of a service dog with a family in need in their community. These dogs have special training for children with autism, and are capable of everything from calming anxiety to helping locate a lost child. Through their Impact Project, Hernando High School students will provide an immeasurable gift — the gift of companionship.
Dodge for a Cure
Supporting Addi’s Battle Against Cancer
East Coweta High School, Sharpsburg, Georgia
East Coweta High School students’ Impact Project will bring a bright spot and much-needed financial support to a little girl and her family. Addi is the 6-year-old granddaughter of East Coweta High School’s head basketball coach, Ronnie Vandiver. Last year, Addi was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer. Chick-fil-A Leader Academy students want to help.
Each year, ECHS students do Dodge for a Cure, a dodge ball tournament that blends a great time with a good cause. Students are asked to select a specific cause that is most personal to them. Students this year chose to help Addi — and Chick-fil-A Leader Academy students are bringing it to life in a big way! All of the money raised will be directed into a fund for Addi’s hospital bills and ongoing care. They are inviting everyone from the community, from all walks of life, to contribute by either donating prizes or by taking part in the tournament. Students have reached out to local high schools, middle schools, elementary schools, churches, and businesses to participate.
When asked about their goals for the event, Chick-fil-A Leader Academy Facilitator Jeffrey Flavin said, “Our students want to max the gym out, but most importantly, they want to show massive support for Addi and her family.”
Operation “Protect Our Waters”
Caring for the Waters and Wildlife of St. Johns River
Ridgeview High School, Orange Park, Florida
Ridgeview High School students are taking on an issue that is close to their hearts: protecting St. Johns River. The resources and wildlife that surround the river are something these students want to preserve for future generations. And so they will rally their school and their community to help.
With support from the St. Johns Riverkeeper, students will supply rain barrels to all 46 schools in the county. These rain barrels are a powerful educational tool, and something the entire school system can get behind.
The Coca-Cola Company generously donated — and personally delivered — 35-gallon and 55-gallon drums that the students will convert into rain barrels using kits from the St. Johns Riverkeeper.
But they won’t stop there. Students are this conservation effort into a community affair. During a daylong event hosted at Ridgeview High School, students and over 200 volunteers from the school and community will assemble the barrels. Students will also speak about the need for responsible water use and the trickle-down effect people have on the wildlife that surrounds St. Johns River.
“This Impact Project brought out the best in our students,” shared Facilitator Scott Thomas. “I had a student that is terrified of public speaking demand to speak to the group about drought and our local aquifer. She also volunteered to lead one of our planning teams!”
The school’s Chick-fil-A Operator Joe Mayo, of Chick-fil-A Middleburg, has been an integral part of their project. He has not only participated in their planning meetings and provided food, but he is also helping with fundraising through his restaurant.
Administrators from all 46 schools, the superintendent, the school board, and county officials, as well as representatives from Coca-Cola and the St. Johns Riverkeeper, are all invited to attend the event.