At McAnally Intermediate School in Aledo, students are SWAPing some BIGG ideas.
SWAP stands for Students With A Purpose. Bigg is an acronym for Big Ideas for the Greater Good.
Put the two together and you get GREAT results.
Fifth and sixth-grade technology applications teacher Sara Reed is the school’s mentor of the students involved.
In January of 2015, SWAP was started. It was formed to allow fifth and sixth-graders the opportunity to grow in their leadership skills as well as support various service projects both at the school and in the community.
Then, Reed saw something on television that gave her an idea for something, well, bigger.
"I saw a new segment on CBS Sunday morning about a gentleman by the name of Chris Rosati who lives in North Carolina and is suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)," she said.
In the segment, Rosati explained how he began applying his own version of the "butterfly effect." The original theory is based on the thought that if a butterfly flaps its wings on one side of the world it could start a hurrican on th eother side.
However, Rosati’s theory is much simpler and much kinder. At dinner one day he gave two young girls sitting at the table next to him $50 each with one simple instruction – do something nice with the money.
The idea, of course, was that their good work would lead to greater things happening to help others.
Reed put her students to the same test, and the results were just as positive.
"After showing the clip to the SWAP members, I challenged them to share ways that they could change the world through our own version of the $50 butterfly grant," she said.
"We had several wonderful essays submitted but one stood out among all the rest. A sixth-grader at our campus, Sean McCarthy, had this wonderful idea to use the $50 to buy his favorite food, pizza, and share it with as many homeless people as possible."
But Sean didn’t stop there, she said.
"He went to local pizza restaurants and businesses and was able to grow his own grant money to over $700 in monetary and food donations," Reed said.
"It was amazing to see this small idea going into something so special."
Through social media, Rosati learned of Sean’s work. His picture was eve highlighted on a follow-up story on a CBS Evening News broadcast this past August.
"Since then, we were contacted by Mr. Rosati’s non-profit organization - Inspire Media Network to join his campaign for spreading kindness by forming the BIGG club this fall."
McAnally is one of a very few campuses outside of Rosati’s home state of North Carolina to be involved in the BIGG program.
"We hope that once the students leave McAnally and move to middle school, their excitement will spark new clubs across the district," said Reed.
Another BIGG project would be the helping with the community canned food drive.
"This was a great starting point since the students were still getting to know each other, and it gave them the opportunity to work together on as a team," said Reed.
Reed and her youngsters also got excited about being part of the McCats Fight the Cold coat drive (an idea suggested by one of the club members). Recently, during Kindness Matters Week, the BIGG Club did graffiti at Vandagrif Elementary with posters for students to see when they arrived at school.
Looking ahead, Reed said, "The BIGG club is still working on the petting zoo fun day project for the functional students in our district."
As the club moves forward, Reed also said they hope to get parents involved helping with projects and chaperoning on off-campus trips.