What’s a kid to do? Nine-year-old Ben Ribble has asked himself that question many times. Ben, a student at Riverside Public School has decided to start a kids’ club in Elmira. “We have been learning a lot about the environment at school and I wanted to do something about all the littering,” said Ben. “I also want to help people in the community, those who are in trouble, homeless and seniors who can’t do things for themselves. I want to make my community and world a better place.”
He’s no stranger to lending a helping hand. Last year after the earthquake in Haiti, Ben held a toy sale and raised $1,100 for relief efforts.
A couple of months ago, Ben approached Dave Ruetz, recreation program manager for the Township of Woolwich, about creating a club for kids where they can plan fundraisers, garbage pick-ups and community events to help others.
“I thought this was a very good idea,” said Ruetz. “Ben and his friends are too young for the youth centre and there is enough interest from younger children to be a part of something to help the community.”
The club held its first meeting on Tuesday at the Woolwich Memorial Centre.
“The club is kid driven,” said Ruetz. “Kids are the members and make all the decisions, their parents and caregivers just help facilitate the group. There is nothing for kids like this, it is very unique. Ben should be applauded for doing this.”
Parents help guide the conversation at meetings and the kids have the final say and vote on each topic.
“We want to make sure [the club] is not seen as a money grab,” said Becky Ribble, Ben’s mother.
“We want to limit our fundraising to a couple times a year as well as organize garbage pick-ups and go to nursing homes and help at hospitals.”
Becky said the plan for the club is to show children that even with minimal financial support good things can be done in a community.
The main focus of the group is to give the children an opportunity to help in the community by volunteering and learn about how they can impact their society.
“By volunteering we hope the kids learn about making a positive influence on someone’s life,” said Cameron Ribble, Ben’s father.
“We live in a very fortunate society, with our Nintendo DS, Saturday morning cartoons and three meals a day,” said Becky. “We are very privileged and the idea of the club is to open up awareness in kids and create a positive impact in society through social awareness and action.”
In the future the club hopes to invite guest speakers from local charities and organizations to come and speak to the children and give them a better understanding about community support.
Meeting once a month the club is open to any school age children from kindergarten to Grade 5.
The first project of the club will be a community cleanup day.
“This is a non-religious, non-school, civic driven club for kids,” said Ruetz. “Although the club is for a certain age group, projects like the garbage pick-up can be attended by anyone in the community.”
The next meeting of the club will be held on May 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Woolwich Memorial Centre, where the club will vote on a name and pick a date for the cleanup effort.