Afterschool Sites in Willamalane Oregon

Evaluation of use in eight afterschool sites in Willamalane Oregon in the spring and summer of 2009; average age of students: 6-10

Service projects completed by the students included creating “Adoption Care” packages for the local Humane Society shelter, staging a dance recital to raise funds for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and funding and planting flowers and plants for the local family resource center.

I. Feedback from 13 adult facilitators:

Overall assessment from project leader

“I would definitely recommend the GHP to other agencies looking for a similar curriculum. We are hoping to add the program to eight more of our afterschool sites in the fall.

“Doing the service projects gave students the opportunities to have new experiences and to learn new skills; for example, they called businesses to ask for donations, dealt with the media, and sold products from bake sales and other fundraisers. The kids are proud of the changes they made, as well as the skills they learned. They felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment when they were finished.

“Staff were impressed with the way students recognized what was important in their community, and how the process of identifying Giraffe Heroes in their local community helped our participants relate to where they lived. Seeing their friends, family and neighbors in the different light focused by this program can help build stronger community ties and hopefully inspire students to become involved at a local level.”

Analysis of facilitator questionnaires. There was strong agreement among facilitators that, by using the GHP, students:

• learned to help other people,

• learned to make the world a better place,

• felt valued by the community,

• became more likely to think they could become a hero and

• became more likely to help others.

Skills learned, as noted by facilitators, included: teamwork, identifying problems in the community, brainstorming solutions, working out problems with others, listening to others' points of view, leadership, learning new words, learning how to appropriately use the telephone and send emails, computer skills, social skills, fundraising skills, good work habits, and organizing and implementing large projects.

Attitude changes, as noted by facilitators, included: compassion, learning why it’s important to help others, seeing how their actions can help others, thinking beyond themselves, patience.

Comments by facilitators:

“It was amazing to me to have students that were problems before step up to the occasion. They were absolutely amazing—the Giraffe Heroes Program gave them something they could really participate in. Positive behaviors were at an all-time high! Thank you!”

“Students began to realize that they were able to help make a difference and that if they put effort into something for the good they could see the difference that they made.”

“I am really proud of our students and their hard work. This is a low-income school and it was wonderful to see students giving back to this community.”

“At first the students felt as if the program would be too much work and not enough fun but as the weeks went on and the final project became a reality, the children were excited and happy to help the community. They felt as if all the hard work was worth it as they got to see how grateful the people were that they helped.”

“This was a great program that is fun and rewarding and sometimes hard for the children. They learned a lot that I think they will take with them; they will always remember how good it felt to help someone else.”

“One of the most amazing things about the Giraffe Heroes was the changes it made in these kids. You could see a change in the way they felt about themselves.”

“After the Giraffe Heroes Program, these students came together as one. They are all heroes in my eyes and I’ve had janitors, teachers and principals say great things about their efforts. These students are caring of others and proved that hard work and teamwork really wins.”

“The students are excited, I’m excited and I think the students are getting what Giraffes Heroes are—people sticking their necks out for a great cause.”

“Teamwork is what this group has become. Amazing! I’m so proud! Thank you Giraffe Program for helping us teach the act of giving and learning the true meaning of working hard to be successful.”

II. Feedback from 109 student questionnaires:

Tabulation of student answers to the following questions:

Pre-GHP Post-GHP

It is important to help other people 88 95

I like to help other people 50 73

I know how to help other people 43 76

It is important to make the world a better place 85 97

I know how to make the world a better place 15 59

I can be someone’s hero 62 78

Impact of the Giraffe Heroes Program

Asked about their experiences in helping others through the Giraffe Heroes Program, 100% of students said it made them feel “good” or “great.” 88% of students said they would do it again. The following reasons are typical:

• because you get to do things for other people and do fun things.

• because I’ve never done this kind of thing before.

• because I like being helpful and giraffes changed me

• because now I know I can help people make a better world.

• because I got to make the world a better place.

• because I got to be a hero.

Impact of the stories of Giraffe Heroes

Post-GHP questionnaires also made it clear that students had learned to identify the traits of a real hero (being strong, brave, caring, persistent, understanding, selfless, etc) and many students expressed an ambition to become heroes too—“to make a difference the way these people did.”

From the mouths of children: post-GHP student advice to others who are thinking of making a difference but haven’t yet:

• “Start with the little things.”

• “Do whatever you want to do to make a difference but do it with a good attitude.”

• “Think about others and what they might want.”

• “If you put you heart into it, you can do anything.”

• “Just try.”

• “Do it and don’t care what others think.”

• “Be a hero.”

• “Go for it because at the end of helping, you will feel good about yourself.”

• “If you are in trouble – just help somebody else.”

• “It’s fun.”