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NY Students Examine 'Double Blow' of Hunger in Haiti

February 15, 2010

NEW YORK - Awareness plus action equals impact. That's the lesson being taught to a special group of New York elementary school students who are looking at hunger problems in Haiti as part of a new after-school program called "Hang Out for Change."

The idea is to raise young people's awareness about global issues such as the causes of hunger, says Sarah Bever, education officer with Mercy Corps Action Center to End World Hunger, which created the program. Bever says 3rd-, 4th- and 5th-graders spend after-school hours with tools like the world hunger map, so they can put Haiti's plight into perspective.

"We have students identify that before the earthquake, Haiti was one of the hungriest countries in the world, and they learn that another cause of hunger is natural disasters."

This month students will get to ask questions to a Mercy Corps field worker who is just back from Haiti. Students from P.S. 89 in lower Manhattan are part of this first-ever program, but Bever says students attending other elementary schools are welcome to join the program throughout the spring semester, at the start of each month.

The Mercy Corps Center to End World Hunger has offered workshops to middle- and high-school students in the past, Bever says, and now they are extending after-school learning to younger kids.

"Elementary school students are really open and really responsive to taking in information about global issues and what's going on around the world. It's a really important part of their educational process, helping them in developing these connections of who they are as citizens."

For students and teachers who can't devote a whole semester to this kind of learning, Bever says the Action Center also offers partial-day workshops for students of all ages.

"We have a workshop on world hunger, and we also have a workshop on children's rights, looking specifically at a child's right to education and a child's right to play. Those are elementary-school, one-time workshops."

The program takes place Tuesdays from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Action Center, 6 River Terrace, in Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY