Colonel Gray students are really making a difference

Jim Day
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Sandra Sunil and Chris Zhou, both executive members of the Free The Children group at Colonel Gray Senior High in Charlottetown, are thrilled to be among 13 students in the group selected for an all expense paid trip to Montreal this month for a major youth empowerment event.Infobox:

Members of the school's Free the Children volunteer group

Chris Zhou is making a difference.

The Grade 12 Colonel Gray Senior High student is president of the Charlottetown school's Free the Children volunteer group.

Free the Children is an international charity that partners with communities to help them lift out of poverty using a holistic, sustainable five-pillar development model.

For the past 10 years, Colonel Gray has fundraised in support of the group's Adopt a Village program. The school is focusing its 2015/2016 fundraising efforts on Adopt a Village's education pillar, which provides teacher training, extracurricular programs, books and basic school supplies to a Free the Children developing community so that children can focus on their studies.

Zhou, 17, has been involved with the group at Colonel Gray for the past three years.

The worthy cause spurs Zhou to roll up his sleeves.

"It gives me a motivation to try to change things for the better,'' he says.

Zhou learned recetly that he and 12 other members of the group at Colonel Gray have been selected for an all-expense trip to Montreal to celebrate WE Day today - Free the Children's stadium-sized youth empowerment and educational event.

"I was very surprised and of course I am very grateful for this opportunity,'' he says.

WestJet is providing flights and accommodation for the major annual event to more than 90 outstanding Canadian youth, including the baker's dozen from Colonel Gray, committed to making change in their communities.

Teacher Jessica Sheppherd, who teams with colleague Denise Arbing to facilitate the Free The Children group at Colonel Gray, describes the students involved at her school as a tight, family group driven to raise funds.

Sandra Sunil, 16, says her three-year involvement with Free The Children has opened her eyes.

"It has really changed my perspective...seeing that we can make a difference with the little things that we do,'' says Sunil, who is vice-president.

Sunil was pleasantly surprised to get the nod for the all expense paid trip to WE Day to join a movement of young people leading local and global change.

"It will be a good experience to see what others are doing...and just build on that knowledge of how to help other people,'' she says.   

WHO 'S GOING

Here are the names of the 13 Colonel Gray Senior High School students selected for the all-expense-paid trip to Montreal this month for a major youth empowerment event known as WE Day:

Chris Zhou

Connie Yun

Ema Krichevskaya

Ethan Spenceley

Ghenyk McDonald

Kitty Yin

Nicholas Robertson

Rosanna Kressin

Sam Lopes

Sandra Sunil

Shannon Drew

Sydney Ford

William Li

Organizations: Free The Children, Charlottetown school, WestJet Colonel Gray Senior High School

Geographic location: Montreal, Sydney

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