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John Burke students touched by autism support project

Doris Matterface, left, and Brenda Lake were two of many participants supporting the silent auction to raise money for the Burin Peninsula Autism Support Group. Carl Rose/ Special to The Southern Gazette
Doris Matterface, left, and Brenda Lake were two of many participants supporting the silent auction to raise money for the Burin Peninsula Autism Support Group. Carl Rose/ Special to The Southern Gazette - Carl Rose

Students helping students

GRAND BANK, NL – A project undertaken by Entrepreneurship 3209 students at John Burke High School in Grand Bank Feb. 10 meant much more to them than their final grades.

Student Joy Price presents a cheque for $1,300 to Liza Hodder, president of the Burin Peninsula Autism Support Group. Students and support group members and children taking part in the presentation were (back, from left): Whitney Cuza, Joy Price, Kelly Baker, Damian Stacey, Liza Hodder, Noah Ayres, Ethan Scott, Coady Bungay, Donovan Snook, Devon Brown, Isaac Barnes, Jude Stapleton (in his mother’s arms), Barbara Stapleton, Shane Stapleton; (front, from left): Nathan Hodder, Jake Hodder, Colin Hodder and Lilah Stapleton. Carl Rose/ Special to The Southern Gazette
Student Joy Price presents a cheque for $1,300 to Liza Hodder, president of the Burin Peninsula Autism Support Group. Students and support group members and children taking part in the presentation were (back, from left): Whitney Cuza, Joy Price, Kelly Baker, Damian Stacey, Liza Hodder, Noah Ayres, Ethan Scott, Coady Bungay, Donovan Snook, Devon Brown, Isaac Barnes, Jude Stapleton (in his mother’s arms), Barbara Stapleton, Shane Stapleton; (front, from left): Nathan Hodder, Jake Hodder, Colin Hodder and Lilah Stapleton. Carl Rose/ Special to The Southern Gazette


As part of their social entrepreneurship unit the class created, planned, promoted and executed a silent auction to raise funds for the Burin Peninsula Autism Support Group.

The 10 students, under the guidance of teacher Maryanne Brown, raised $1,300 to support youth with autism in the area.


Brown said she was merely the facilitator and the initiative was totally driven by the students.
“They came up with the idea, they did all the work, all the heavy lifting. Today, they are the boss,” she said.
While this project is a component of the course, students agree they did it because they really wanted to.
“We started thinking of causes not getting the support or attention they should be getting,” said student Damian Stacey. “We hear so much about young kids being diagnosed with autism today, much more than years ago, so we decided to raise money for them and support them.
“This project really touched us,” he said. “We all know students with autism; we grew up with them; some of them are in our classes.”
Fellow student Joy Price feels much the same way.

“Autism is such a big thing in our little community. We decided we had to give something back to the little kids,” she said.

The students appreciated the community support their project received.

“We had the support of 50 businesses and many individuals in the local area,” said Stacy. “Without their support, we could not have done this.”
Their teacher said while planning the silent auction was a labour of love for the students, such activities are important to their personal development.
“Students developed and employed their skills in communication through contact with businesses and individuals in securing donations,” said Brown.
“They displayed incredible leadership and teamwork in the planning and execution of the fundraiser.”
Members of the Burin Peninsula Autism Support group attended the fundraiser and were overwhelmed that the students decided to support their group.
“We are so pleased they would think of us,” said Liza Hodder, president of the Burin Peninsula Autism Support group. “It shows the level of awareness and support we are getting on the Burin Peninsula.”

She said the funds would support existing programs, like building up the group’s lending library and purchasing iPads with autism apps for parents to borrow to help in their children’s development.
In the long term, the group hopes to construct its own building on a piece of land it has already secured, said Hodder.
“We need our own building so we can develop our own programs right here on the Burin Peninsula,” she said. “Donations like this will help us achieve that goal.”

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