Community CAS

We are aware of many 'CAS' activities that our staff, students and parents are involved in: reading clubs, charity fun runs, knitting club, sports teams, choirs and volunteering for charitable and community organisations to name just a few. This is a very powerful message to our students that creativity, activity and service are valuable parts of a happy, well-balanced adult life.

As a way to inspire and encourage our students and to celebrate our community, we have started a blog here for our community to share their CAS experiences.

If you are involved in a CAS project and would be willing to share your experience please click here to contribute to our Dwight Community CAS blog.

Dwight Student Zaki - Habitat For Humanity
Dwight Student Zaki - Habitat For Humanity

I've come to believe that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, while allowing the energy of the universe to lead you - Oprah Winfrey.

As I saw Bilkis's little face peer out of her mother's arms, her warm bold eyes observing the view of Santa Rosa and the group of strangers admiring her confused stare - I knew that I was about to embark on what was going to significantly impact not only my life, but the lives of her family and community. During the summer of 2016, I was fortunate enough to attend Habitat For Humanity's Global Village trip to Honduras with ten others and experienced what life was like in a developing country. This unforgettable life-changing experience allowed me to serve globally and was inspiring, remarkable, enriching and fulfilling. It challenged and strengthened my understanding of how many people are living below the poverty line and in conditions that I could not have ever imagined.

Stepping out of San Pedro Sula Airport, the humidity of the Honduran air beating down on us. It was in this moment we knew the journey we were to encounter was going to be challenging both physically and mentally. The group headed to the site that we would be building on. Surrounded by lime and avocado trees, the family greeted us, introducing the fellow builders who would assist on the site.

The ironic thing about this experience was while I thought I was there to transform the life of the family we were building for, they actually transformed my life. They sparked a passion in me to enrich the lives of others. CAS is not just about finding some activity to make up the hours – if actually thought through, working in the community you can make a change by your actions and from that service you are rewarded.

Dwight Student Alysia - volunteer dance teacher
Dwight Student Alysia - volunteer dance teacher

One of the CAS activities I took part in last year was helping my dance teacher with ballet and tap lessons every Friday. There were two ballet lessons, grades 3 and 4, and one tap class that was grade 3 but took their exam in December. I had never taken tap lessons before but did try learning some basic steps during the summer, so I was learning at the same time as the students during some lessons. However as I am older I learned the sequences quicker and could help them understand the rhythm and technique.

I had never had a role like this where I was helping students, and thought that at first I would not have enough confidence to take control of a class as I have always been quiet and do not usually have much confidence around people I don't know very well. During the first few weeks this was the case and I wasn't as confident as I could be, but with each week I did improve.

During the ballet classes I was asked to choreograph exercises for the students, which at first was difficult as I had never done this before, but with each week I gained more confidence in the exercises I was creating and could judge whether it was too easy or too difficult depending on how long it took the students to learn it. I enjoyed doing this because I was able to put what I had learned during my ballet classes into use.

The school had a performance in May which I was a part of for my own ballet class, but I also had a solo in the grade 4 ballet dance because I was helping the students and it worked well in the routine. I enjoyed being a part of their dance and also helping out with the grade 3 ballet and tap, as I was able to watch the students and improve their technique and be more confident on stage.

I learned many new skills from this activity without realising because I enjoyed it so much, and am happy that I took the opportunity to be a part of it. I gained more confidence and learned the skills required to be a good teacher. I learned each of the students' strengths and weaknesses and was able to help them all using techniques that they understood best. I found this activity a very easy way of gaining CAS hours because I enjoyed helping out and was participating in an activity I am passionate about.

Dwight Staff Member Mary Langford - founding member of The Friends of Cricklewood Library
Dwight Staff Member Mary Langford -  founding member of The Friends of Cricklewood Library

Since 1989 I have been a founding member of The Friends of Cricklewood Library. It was in 1989 that for the second time, Brent Council started to make noises about closing our local community library. By raising public awareness of the library, hosting occasional lectures of interest to the community (local girl-made-good Zaidi Smith was our first speaker!; Dalgit Nagra, aka The Bard of Dollis Hill, an award winning local poet was another), by lobbying All Souls College Oxford who original gifted the library to the community 90 years ago, and by doing lots of surveys, we staved off the closure for over a decade. Then, about five years ago, despite collaborations with other six other Brent Libraries (SOS – Save our Six) and LLL (Libraries for Londoners for Life) the Council sent in the wrecking ball and sold the land to a property developer. (According to the BBC, about 450 public libraries have been closed in Britain in recent years.)

Not thwarted by the wrecking ball, the FOCL rallied again and mounted a bi-partisan, community-wide movement which resulted in an invitation to give testimony before Brent Council Planning authorities, and the result was that the developer had to devote the ground floor of his new 4-story block of flats to become a public library, and the Council named the Friends of Cricklewood Library as the preferred occupants. So, now the building is standing nearing completion, and we are raising funds through donations and grants so we are ready to open in early 2017. We need £100,000 to finish the interior and furnish with fixtures, fittings and wifi.

To keep our Cricklewood Library name alive, we started a pop-up library at our local Willesden Green Underground Station (see photo) – we take it in turns to tidy and re-stock with books, though passers-by also donate books. I am always giddy with joy when I pass through that station even late on a Saturday night and see people of all ages browsing through the collection. Such has been the success of our 'Willesden Green Tube Branch' that the station manager at the Cricklewood Rail station asked us in October to open a pop up at his station. This has kept our library in the public profile, even though we don't actually 'have' a library.
We have no shortage of bookstock. During the summer I took a day off to help sort through all the donated books we have received (from members of the public but also the American School of London) to separate the 'keepers' from the books we would use to sell at local fairs, from the books we use to stock the pop-ups. At the end of 3 days of stocktaking, we discovered we had a collection of 5000 books that are ready to stock our new library when it opens.
Starting out as Secretary to the FOCL in 1998, I have been active throughout and am now one of the Trustees for the new Charity that we had to create to formalise and raise funds. Our library will be a resource for the local community, particularly the two local primary schools and several nurseries, but also a venue for homework club after school and EAL lessons for our highly diverse Cricklewood community.

My interest in libraries is somewhat genetic. My grandmother was a librarian for the Waseca County Public Library in Minnesota, and my earliest memories are of her working in the library and bringing home books to read to us; my mother paid her college tuition by working in her university library. Friday night visits to the bookmobile were part of my childhood in Ohio. It gives me tremendous satisfaction to be part of a volunteer, community-led project that is coming to fruition.

http://www.cricklewoodlibrary.org.uk/

Dwight Teacher Pilar Delgado - Shine Walk for Cancer Research
Dwight Teacher Pilar Delgado - Shine Walk for Cancer Research

In the past two years I have taken part in a night half marathon walk raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research. It is a night full of energy, positivism, hope and warmth. Walking in a big group of 17,000 people all sharing the same target keeps you going and going no matter the time, the weather or how tired you feel. It is a wonderful feeling reaching the final line knowing that your efforts will count and all the support received will make a difference one day not far away. Guess what was my first thought the following morning? If you would like to participate next year, please check the following link:http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/find-an-event/charity-walks/shine-night-walk

Dwight Staff member Michelle Payne - volunteer helper/fund-raiser for RSPCA Southridge Animal Centre
Dwight Staff member Michelle Payne - volunteer helper/fund-raiser for RSPCA Southridge Animal Centre

I volunteer for my local RSPCA Animal Centre at their fund-raising events which are held throughout the year. These include the annual Fun Day and Dog Show, a one-day outdoor Music Festival and the Christmas Ball, to name but a few.

At the fun-day in July I helped to set up stalls, the show rings and then collected the entrance fee on show day. This year was the busiest ever. During the Halloween weekend, the RSPCA hosted a 80's themed Halloween party, Club Terrorcana I managed to cook my way through 90 burgers for all the hungry party goers! I am now looking forward to the next event - The Christmas Ball in December, all welcome!

More details about this charity can be found on the following links-

Dwight Teacher Scott Lucas - Community Racket Club
Dwight Teacher Scott Lucas - Community Racket Club

I have been coordinating the "Racket Club" this year. We played tennis at the school courts until the clocks went back and now we're heading to the squash courts to stay warm this winter by working up a sweat.

Dwight Students João and Raoul - set up a movement called 'Fruity Friday'!
Dwight Students João and Raoul - set up a movement called 'Fruity Friday'!

Last year we started a movement called Frooty Friday. When we visited India on holiday we saw that there were some migrant labourers children who had never tasted fruits before. We took them some and this made them very happy and we wanted to continue to do this. We thought we wanted all the children in the world to be equal and so we started Frooty Friday. Last year Frooty Friday was the Lower School's nominated charity and with the money we collected we were able to distribute fruits for a year to 5000 children in a slum in India. Our friends from Dwight Angad Theti and Saihaj and a few others helped us, we created our own calendar which we sold last year to more than 98 people and donated this money as well to a charity called REAP India who helped us distribute the fruits in India. Last December, we personally handed over the fruits to about 100 kids in the same slum and we were really thrilled to see their excitement. They welcomed us, asked about our school life and said they are waiting to see us again. The slum was quite tough to walk through as it was up a hill with small huts all around. Although it was difficult and sometimes a bit tiring, we enjoyed it. You can have a look at our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/frootyfriday

Dwight Parent Jennifer Hendricks - supporting children through the charity 'Beanstalk'
Dwight Parent Jennifer Hendricks - supporting children through the charity 'Beanstalk'

I volunteer as a "reader" twice a week at Harringay School for an organization called Beanstalk. I read and play games with three wonderful 11-year-olds who are struggling in one way or another with their self-confidence or with reading in general. They are children designated by the school as needing a little bit more support than what they are able to get at home or from the school. If you have four hours free a week during school hours, I highly recommend this organization. Here is their website: http://www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk/

Dwight Parent Genevieve Desouza - educating children about the importance of water
Dwight Parent Genevieve Desouza - educating children about the importance of water

Educating and bringing together children worldwide to share resources on the importance of water. Through collaboration, interactive facts engaging children to make responsible choices when it comes to water is what I have been doing for the past 5 years. I have travelled to different schools and lived in a water deficient village in India to be able to understand and therefore offer solutions more particularly to the women and mothers.

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