"Teaching humanity first provides my Life Skills students with personal empowerment and hands-on practical life experience, a way that teaches them the value of citizenship, volunteerism, civic engagement, and community service. Combining a love for humanity with community/career-based instruction is my main goal," says Bonnie Lacagnina, facilitator.
Bernadette Lacagnina, Facilitator
Triton Kids Care Club
Mariners Middle School, Life Skills Class
Cape Coral, FL
Bernadette Lacagnina, (known as Ms. Bonnie by her students) a Life Skills teacher at Mariner Middle School in Cape Coral, FL is the founder and facilitator of the Triton Kids Care Club.
In 2010 Sam Huber, president of The Kiwanis of Cape Coral, FL in partnership with The Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida approached Bernadette Lacagnina with the opportunity for her Life Skills class (students with moderate to more serious disabilities) to run a FREE service called "The Childhood Hunger Backpack Program." Her students became the official ambassadors to the program whose goal is to prevent a food crisis for 200 students and their families by sending home food-filled backpacks on Friday afternoons with students at no cost. Backpacks are delivered to students during 6th period and students must sign their bags back into school on Monday morning when they get off of the bus. Since Mariner Middle School is a Title I school, all students automatically qualify into the program. Ms. Bonnie's student ambassadors are learning real life skill such as how to use math applications, logistics and distribution skills.
"To me this is such a big deal. We don't have much food in my house and my parents don't make a lot of money. There are five family members in my house and when we are low on money, we don't have enough to buy food. We have to plan on how we're going to get by with the food that we have over several days until my parents earn enough money to buy more. When I heard about this program and brought home food, my parents were thrilled! It is such a blessing for my family to be able to eat three meals each weekend. We are all so much happier when we are not hungry." --Ariel, grade 6
A grateful mom said, "I can't thank you enough for all of the free food. It is a very big help to my family. I recently lost my job and things have been very difficult. I just wanted to say, Thank you."
The Triton Kids Care Club members understand the meaning of hunger and how it feels. To draw even more attention to the problem of hunger in their community, they were inspired to build a five foot high robot to raise awareness of childhood hunger. They built the robot out of recycled cans from the school cafeteria with the help of K-Rods Auto Restoration. The robot displays the words that describe what it feels and tastes like to be hungry: Apathy,Shaky, Nausea, Fatigue, Rude, Upset, Weak, Angry, and Cranky. The goal of the project is to promote awareness on campus and to increase all student's critical thinking skills. The robot holds a sign that says, "What does hunger taste like?"
Another notable event that took place at Mariner Middle School was when the students in the Research TV Production class took it upon themselves to act out a skit to advertise "The Childhood Hunger Backpack Project" to their fellow peers and ran stories on the daily morning news.
Ms. Bonnie encourages all of the students participating in this free program to be of service to their own families by being sensitive, responsible young adults during this time of need. She says, "Being a Kids Care Club facilitator has allowed me to make personal connections with students and parents that would not have been the case without the club. The response and support of all involved has been heartwarming to witness."
We at generationOn Kids Care Club commend the Triton Kids Care Club and their amazing facilitator, Bernadette Lacagnina for addressing the real issue of hunger in their community and helping to supply weekend backpacks filled with food for families in need. This is a big undertaking but an incredibly important service that these kids are able to help provide. Congratulations Triton Kids Care Club!!