Jeff Heuchert, Stratford Gazette
A fundraiser over the weekend brought two socially conscious teens a bit closer to their South American destination.
Ashley Wheeler, 15, and Megan Speiran, 14, are hoping to travel to Ecuador next July to help build a school. The trip is being planned through the Me to We group at Stratford Central secondary school, where the Stratford girls will be entering Grade 10 in the fall.
Hoping to knock a couple hundred dollars off the cost of their trip, the girls organized a car wash Saturday morning in the Stratford Motor Products parking lot.
They were joined by family and friends and members of Kids R MAD (Making a Difference), the humanitarian group started by Wheeler last year to give other like-minded youth in the city a chance to raise money and awareness for issues affecting people in Third World countries.
The group typically meets once a month to discuss what causes they would like to support and how.
Some of the group’s charitable activities to date have included holding a garage sale for CARE Canada, selling fudge and mint smoothies for World Vision, Free the Children and War Child Canada, and collecting milk bags to be converted into bed mats.
“We just really wanted to help people,” says Wheeler, who had help getting the group started from her younger sister, Aliyah, 12.
Kids R MAD currently has about 10 members, the majority of whom are between the ages of 10-12. Speiran says they would like to see more high school-aged youth participate, noting the group is a great opportunity to be active in the community and develop the leadership skills they are being taught in school.
“It gets teens and youth out in the community helping, putting out awareness about causes,” she adds. “I think it’s a great idea.”
Saturday’s fundraiser – like each of the Kids R MAD initiatives – was organized solely by its members, in this case, Wheeler and Speiran.
Speiran’s mom, Lori, says she couldn’t be prouder of the two girls.
“It’s pretty amazing to think (travelling to Ecuador) is something they really want to do,” she says, noting her daughter has wanted to take a missionary trip since she was in Grade 6 and first became involved with Me to We.
“Whether we can afford it or not we’re going to make it happen,” she adds. “It’s an opportunity of a lifetime for these kids.”