Raising $60K with the JDRF Kids Walk to Cure Diabetes Program: An Interview
The JDRF Kids Walk to Cure Diabetes program is an educational fundraising program with two goals: to teach students about diabetes as well as the importance of being healthy, and to offer them an opportunity to make a difference by raising money for research.
After interviewing Jennifer Mylock, director of youth initiatives at JDRF, about the program, we were introduced to Lynette Cox, a P.E. teacher at Silvercrest Elementary in Pearland, Texas, who has participated in the program several times.
Earlier this year, Silvercrest was ranked as the top JDRF fundraising school in Houston. We interviewed Lynette about her experience as a school coordinator for these Walks.
Why did your school choose to participate in the JDRF Kids Walk to Cure Diabetes program?
I became interested in learning more about type 1 diabetes because we had a student that had the disease. I felt that this cause would be meaningful for our students. Also, JDRF makes it so simple for teachers; they come and count the money throughout the day and give us preliminary totals as each group comes for the Walk. I was not responsible for writing receipts, counting or handling the money, or making sure the prizes were correct. That took a great deal of time and pressure off of me as a very busy teacher.
What has the process been like to coordinate these Walks?
The process began with a contact person from JDRF. We were in touch frequently through email; first setting the dates for the kick off as well as the event. The representative was always prompt in responding to my questions and/or concerns, and the dates I requested have always been available.
What are some of your favorite aspects of the Kids Walk program?
First of all, I love that our students become aware of type 1 diabetes, the symptoms, and ways to stay healthy. Second, I love that our students have an opportunity to make a contribution to finding a cure as well as learning to be a community helper for a life-changing cause. Third, the students and staff have a great time during our Walk. We have music and prize drawings, and at the end of each class we get to hear the estimated total for that particular group. It is a very exciting day, and our school has raised almost $60,000 in three Walks during the last few years (2011, 2012 and 2014).
How have the students and teachers responded to the program?
As mentioned by our totals for three events, our students and staff have done an awesome job collecting money for JDRF. They have truly embraced the concept of helping find a permanent cure for type 1 diabetes and gone above and beyond to bring money back for JDRF.
How many Kids Walks have you led?
Four; one at Cockrell Elementary School, and three here at Silvercrest in Pearland Independent School District.
What are some of your most successful strategies for engaging the students and their families? What tips do you have for other schools that are considering a Kids Walk?
I think the most important thing is that I point out that we have a student with type 1 diabetes at our own school. We discuss what a typical day is like for someone who has type 1. This brings the importance of finding a cure very close to home for children.
Also, I talk about the event and show the packets each day briefly before we begin class. I usually ask by a show of hands how many have collected even one dollar. I try to emphasize that doing their best to help others understand why we are collecting the money is the most important thing and that every single dollar counts.
I also send home a “Friendly Reminder” note the day before their collection packets are due and ask our home room teachers to remind the students as well by way of their take home folders.
One of my favorite things to tell our students during the two weeks when we are collecting money is, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a cure was found and you could say that you were a part of helping find it!”
What are some of the highlights of your experience as a school coordinator for the program?
JDRF rewards teachers for their time/commitment by issuing a check for 10 percent of the total funds raised to benefit that program. Those funds have helped supplement our rather small school budgets and allowed me to buy basketballs, jump ropes, an iPad for P.E. music, a new tug-of-war rope, etc. I can buy the items needed for P.E. from any vendor I choose; it doesn’t have to be a certain company, which helps me find the best prices.
Overall, working with the friendly JDRF representatives has been nothing but a positive, enjoyable experience, and I am so happy to contribute to this cause.