You walk up the stairs of Edison elementary school with the smell of books and children filling your nose. You enter a classroom with colorful pictures and paintings on the walls with chairs occupied by friendly fourth graders. All of them look up at you, smiling and waiting to find their helper.
This is the experience that Peace Jam members encounter every Friday after school for six weeks in the spring. Peace Jam is an extracurricular club that is involved with many volunteering opportunities. Over the course of a year about 90 students participate in 37 different Peace Jam activities. These activities go from feeding the homeless, to teaching elementary kids how to read.
In the “Norrix/Edison Literacy project” held every Friday, the Peace Jam members help the Edison elementary kids read using different techniques. During these sessions, the fifth graders tell the Loy Norrix students about their week with excited faces.
After the six weeks are over, the Edison and Loy Norrix students go on a field trip to Binder Park Zoo to say their goodbyes.
“You get to know the kids on a personal level,” said sophomore Frankie Stevens “and you can brighten up their Friday.”
Aleshia, was Stevens’ previous student that she was paired with. “She was sweet, and always greeted me with a smile on her face,” said Stevens.
Stevens’ mom had inspired her to get involved in Peace Jam, along with their family friend and Loy Norrix staff member Sveri May, the director of the organization.
“She is really caring, she gives and gives and gives,” Frankie said about her mom.
One of Stevens’ mom’s mottos is “leave a place better than you found it,” and Peace Jam is helping make that happen for her.
Knowing May has helped Stevens get involved in Peace Jam even before she started attending Loy Norrix. Because of her connection with May, she has been participating in Peace Jam for nearly four years already.
“I like making a change in people’s life, and with Peace Jam I get to,” stated Stevens.
Peace Jam isn’t the only part of her life that is involved with helping people; Stevens’ younger brother needs tending to as well. With her mother being a single mom, she often helps make dinner, gets her brother to bed, and regularly helps with things around the house.
“Even if it’s something small it still helps out a lot,” said Stevens, “It’s the small things that count.”