How a classroom of kids — and one empowering teacher — are helping meet the needs of homeless individuals in Santa Monica

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It’s often said that children are our future, and if the kids at John Muir Elementary School are any indication, Santa Monica is bound to have a future that’s characterized by empathy, pragmatism, and ingenuity. It’s at John Muir that 11-year old Logan and his class took it upon themselves to make a positive difference in the community by putting on a sock drive for the unhoused people in the community. The kids’ inspiring resolve only serves to spur on our goal, as a city to keep working to meet the needs of the homeless community and ultimately — to end the homelessness epidemic.

Exploring and Empowering

Logan is a student in teacher Skye’s classroom. Skye teaches children with a variety of learning needs, including cognitive delays and traumatic brain injuries. Since the kids are at different ages and developmental stages, meeting their learning needs requires a creative approach to teaching. But Skye doesn’t mind approaching things creatively. Not only does she find it more fulfilling, she also finds that the kids stay much more engaged when learning is a little more “applicable to what’s going on in the community and world”.

Skye’s larger perspective approach that focuses on real world issues and sceneries as a way to foster innovative real world  problem solvers led her to take the class for a walk through the neighborhood to explore the community. She asked students to think of ways they could help improve it. Logan and his classmates took the lesson seriously — studying their surroundings, taking note of their neighbors, and brainstorming ways to make things better.

The thing that struck Logan and the other kids the most on their neighborhood walk were the unhoused people they came across — specifically that most of them didn’t have socks. Concerned that these people might be cold, the kids decided that the best thing they could do to improve their community was put on a sock drive to help keep their neighbors warm.

Back in the classroom, Skye empowered the kids by letting them take the lead. They researched homelessness in Santa Monica and found that there are over 900 unhoused people in the city. With that number in mind, they made it their goal to collect at least 1,000 pairs of socks so that they could reach everyone.

Skye then set up a GoFundMe page and the kids drafted a website to increase awareness of the drive and begin gathering socks, and sending letters to those in the local government. It was a success. The kids were able to amass a whopping 2,000 pair of socks — double their goal. When they were all collected, the kids took a field trip to a shelter to deliver the socks in person.

Kids Leading the Way

Skye says she hopes these kids inspire others to remember you don’t have to be an adult or activist to make a difference in the world. People in any job or position — including school children — can take small steps, look around, and decide how to make a better community and world.

You can help create a better future for Santa Monica too, by helping to address the current homelessness crisis.

There are currently 53,000 homeless individuals in the county, with 13,000 more people losing housing every month. In other words — we need all hands on deck. Start by downloading the Homelessness Toolkit. It contains practical advice including what to say, what to do, and what service providers are working hard every day. A new Volunteer and Donation Guide has also been developed for those ready to roll up your sleeves and make a difference right here in Santa Monica.

As always, be sure to stay up to date with what we’re doing to improve Santa Monica at weare.santamonica.gov.