The group began last spring with the idea that any person can make a change in the world and the motto of changing one's thinking process from 'Me' to 'We'.
A year later, students involved in NACI's Team H.O.P.E. (Helping Our World Pursue Equality) are bringing those ideas to life after reaching a $5,000 fundraising target to help bring a drinking water well to a community in Kenya while achieving locally as well.
"I think we accomplished more than we ever thought would actually be possible," H.O.P.E. Dana Todoruk said of her group's efforts.
The group was formed last May when the 2012 We Day - a provincial, social awareness conference for students - activities in Winnipeg were announced.
At that time teachers Michelle Young and Katharine Kingdon, who were later joined by fellow teacher Dianne Nordstrom and principal Kelvin Hollier as staff leaders, educated students in the school about the global action initiative.
Response from students was immense as 40 - children anywhere from Grades 7-12 this year - joined the group.
H.O.P.E. students created a logo, slogan and prepared to participate in We Day. They were also tasked with deciding which of the 'four pillars' of life they would like to complete a fundraising challenge for; education, health, sustainable development and water.
Students chose to fundraise $5,000 towards the purchase of a new water well in a Kenyan community, with the guidance of the globally-minded Free the Children organization.
"We felt water was the beginning tool for all of the pillars," Todoruk explained of H.O.P.E.'s reason for choosing that 'pillar'. "For example, to have a healthy person to accomplish anything else you need to have clean water. And girls can't go to school if they are having to spend their time carrying water."
Students began planning - and following through with - fundraising activities.
School spirit scarves were sewn by students and sold; a used sports-equipment sale was held; the community was canvassed for Halloween for Hunger which raised truckloads of food for the local Salvation Army; students and teachers participated in a Vow of Silence day where they didn't speak; a Rotary Park cleanup was held, as was a Community Pancake Breakfast.
During the year, NACI also hosted a related H2O 4 U presentation sponsored by RBC, and baked 70 dozen cookies and delivered them to local businesses and organizations for their support of the school.
Students also travelled to Winnipeg's Siloam Mission, an organization which helps homeless or needy people in their everyday endeavours, such as with meals. Teacher Michelle Young believes the impact that experience was invaluable for her students.
"When we first arrived, and we were waiting outside with the people who use Siloam Mission, you could see the nervousness all the students had," Young explained. "Then we went inside, toured the building and spoke with Siloam Mission workers, and by the time they were outside again with the same people, they were a lot more comfortable.
"I think it really opened the eyes of many kids and I think they really learned a lot about life that day."
As of last week, H.O.P.E. accomplished its goal of fundraising $5,000 for the drinking water well in Kenya. Over the year the group also donated funds toward Siloam Mission and the Roxy Theatre.
"It's teaching students they have an impact in the world and the little things we do make a big difference," Young added. "And H.O.P.E. students all completed a survey recently where none of them said they wanted to leave the group, so I think they are really believing the message."
H.O.P.E. will wait until this fall to find out exactly which Kenyan community will benefit from their fundraising efforts.