Richmond Hill Liberal
Under cloudy skies, more than 50 girls from Oak Ridges’ Bond Lake Public School set off on a five-kilometre run Saturday morning to give girls half a world away an opportunity to learn.
The girls, in Grades 5 to 8, are members of the school’s FitSpirit club, which promotes healthy and active lifestyles for girls in Ontario and Quebec.
They organized the Girls that Care community run through their neighbourhood to raise money for Confident Children out of Conflict, which aims to give girls in South Sudan educational opportunities.
South Sudan, in northeastern Africa, is plagued with “one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world,” according to the United Nations.
One 2012 research paper said the country has the worst gender equality in education on the planet.
Lotem Tomsinsky, a Grade 8 student at the Oak Ridges school, said girls from the club are pleased help open up educational doors for girls in South Sudan.
“We wanted to host this event in order to act as global citizens and to help make a change in our world. Although we cannot completely solve the issue, one small step can be the beginning of what we hope to become a revolution,” the articulate 13-year-old said.
“It is to educate the girls there. Because of recent conflicts, girls have not been able to get education in Sudan properly, so we want to raise as much money as we can to give it to them and hope we can open up bright futures for girls who are determined to learn.”For the past two years, Lotem has been part of the club, which sees the girls training every day from January to March to take part in an annual five-kilometre run with other schools.
This year, the Bond Lake girls decided to keep training and organize an event to have a global impact, she said.
It’s significant that the run is taking place near the end of the school year, Lotem said.
“Now, as you look through Canada, a lot of people (are saying), ‘Who can’t wait for the end of school?’ and all of us raise our hands. But in South Sudan, girls are like, ‘No, I want school to start,’ so I’m feeling really good about giving girls who really want to learn an opportunity.”
There is a wide gap between the educational opportunities boys and girls in South Sudan are given, Dale Black, an educational assistant at the school and one of the staff who helped organize the run, said.
“The literacy rate in South Sudan is 28 per cent and among females, it’s only 16 per cent, so we’re looking to change that,” she said.
Organizers of the run don’t know yet how much money the event raised.