Improving Kids' Lives

You Matter Giveaway Projects: Improving Kids’ Lives

Our next You Matter Giveaway winner is Babatunde Ayilola! A dentist in Nigeria, Babatunde is very active in his community. With the $250 funds, Babatunde will put together 200 dental kits for children at a local orphanage. Each kit will contain a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. He’ll personally deliver the kits and teach the children about the importance of oral health. Congratulations to Babatunde! We look forward to sharing his project when it’s completed.

Here are project updates from our last two You Matter Giveaway winners:

Some of the books Melanie purchased for her local school to help foster inclusivity, understanding and empathy among children.

Melanie Schultz, a Certified Orthotist Assistant at Twin Cities Orthopedics, is also a foster and adoptive mom. Sadly, she knows all too well the heartache and loneliness of children who are ostracized because they look different or come from families that look different. After consulting numerous parents from diverse backgrounds, Melanie used the $250 from the Giveaway to purchase 25 children’s books for her local school that depicts nontraditional families and children with disabilities. On her Facebook page, she explained why she chose this particular project to pursue.

“My goal is for every child to be able to see themselves and their peers in the books they are reading. From kids with limb differences, to kids who speak other languages, or use adaptive equipment, live in nontraditional family arrangements, or learn differently–they will get to see themselves in these awesome stories.”

Melanie is also hoping the books bridge the fear that often keeps kids from reaching out to others who seem different.

“Kids fear what they don’t understand. Quite frankly, adults do too! If kids can learn about diversity, disability, family systems, and community in an age-appropriate way, we can reduce some of the fear they feel of what is “different.” So many kids get excluded because of their unique circumstances solely because their peers are afraid to engage.  I’m hoping these books will empower the peers of kids who feel marginalized to understand, engage and befriend.”

Students at Justice Page Middle School staying warm while enjoying a day of winter activities thanks to art teacher, Elissa.

Elissa Cedarleaf Dahl, an art teacher at Justice Page Middle School in Minneapolis, also wanted to help children with disabilities feel more included in the community. In addition to her teaching at Justice Page, Elissa also does art and Racial Equity Consulting work for the Loppet Foundation, whose mission is to develop a shared love for the outdoors with under-resourced people in the community.

“In my Art and Murals classrooms at Justice Page, I have many Special Ed. and Gen Ed. students mixed together, making art and collaborating every day. I see how friendships are formed, empathy is learned and practiced, and inclusion is mutually beneficial. I saw the opportunity to design a field trip with the Loppet Foundation and Unified Special Olympics as the perfect way to build deeper relationships among my students and have a lot of fun together!”

Using the funds from the You Matter Giveaway, Elissa purchased winter gear for students with special needs to enjoy a day of adaptive winter activities at Wirth Park with their peers who signed up to be their “buddy” for the day. Being that this was the first field trip since COVID began, spirits were especially high and the day turned out to be a roaring success. Not just because everyone had a good time learning new activities and skills, but more so because everyone had a fun time together.

“During the day I saw kids helping each other clip boots into skis, get up out of the snow, pull tubes up the hill and encouraging each other to try new things. I heard students laughing and “wooohoooo-ing” as they went down the hills and marveling at each other’s abilities to Nordic ski!”

MATTER’s mission is to help people launch projects that improve communities. We’re honored to have helped Melanie and Elissa launch their You Matter Giveaway projects, improving kids’ lives and impacting their communities for years to come.