Wildwood students visit Pacific Garden


Fifth grade students at Wildwood School recently built a portable "soup kitchen" that was used to provide food and care packages to the homeless at the Pacific Garden Mission, 1458 S. Canal St.

The project was part of the school’s annual International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program exhibition. The International Baccalaureate Program’s philosophy, which encourages critical thinking and respect for others, is incorporated throughout the school’s curriculum.

This year’s exhibition asked students to explore how people express themselves. "It has to have an action component," Wildwood International Baccalaureate Program coordinator Monica Balen-Tilkin said. "You just can’t put down all the facts. You have to do something."

The project required students to recruit parent volunteers to assist with the construction of the cafe, which has collapsible decorative walls. "The children decided to incorporate art, music and dance to make the Wildwood IB Cafe a place where how they express themselves is shared with the community and no one eats alone," Balen-Tilkin said.

The approximately 6-foot walls of the cafe feature messages of hope. One image shows a set of four hands with the words "we want to help," while another shows hearts with "you are loved."

At the Pacific Garden homeless shelter, the students sang and distributed food, water and other items.

Also as part of the exhibition, students explored the effect of social media on communities.