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Letting their lights shine

22 March 2017
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Beaconhills College students are now part of an innovative project that will see solar powered lights delivered to children and families living in developing countries.

Through a program run by Australian charity SolarBuddy – and in partnership with national education not-for-profit organisation Cool Australia – students built a solar light in class and wrote a personal letter to go with it.

The lights will go to countries such as Myanmar, Uganda, Ghana, Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea to help children do their homework at night and avoid the use of dangerous kerosene lamps.

SolarBuddy’s aim is the end the cycle of energy poverty and at the same time educate Australian children about energy poverty, renewable energy and global citizenship.

CEO Simon Doble was at Beaconhills on Wednesday 22 March to help students build the lights and talk to them about the program – and how it began.

He described taking his original idea of a solar powered tent pole to the United Nations. It has since been used by UN agencies and NGOs to bring power to refugee camps and natural disaster victims.

He said SolarBuddy was trying to help children stay safe and have a better environment to live in.

“We are giving them a leg-up, not a hand-out,” he said. “It’s about getting lights in the houses of children who could not afford them.” He said the lights stayed charged for eight hours and children could tie them to their backpacks to charge up as they walked to and from school.

Once SolarBuddy deliver the lights, each Beaconhills student will receive a photo and message back from the recipient.

Beaconhills’ Head of Citizenship and Service, Clare Tuohy, said the project addressed all the College’s six Learning that Matters principles, including learning about citizenship and service, the environment and the world and other cultures. Wellbeing is also covered – and the intrinsic satisfaction of doing something for someone else.

“Research tells us that community service is one of the most effective ways to enhance personal wellbeing,” Ms Tuohy said, adding that students also learned about the personal responsibility we all have to our fellow human beings.

She said Year 8 students could also incorporate their work with SolarBuddy in their Certificates of Excellence.

While the first program has taken place at the Berwick Campus, Pakenham Campus students will also have the chance to join in next term.

SolarBuddy CEO Simon Doble (left) with student Jagvir

SolarBuddy CEO Simon Doble (left) with student Jagvir

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