Teens have found a passion for worldly issues left unsatisfied within the confines of a four-walled classroom. With students growing restless, high schools around Melbourne have begun encouraging pupils to become actively involved in street fundraisers. This mode of money-raising has become increasingly popular over the past few years, and has spilled over onto the broad spectrum of digital platforms, where our younger generations have proven most inspired.
Students Alex, Tom and Andrew of Buckley Park College, Essendon, are no exception. In recent months, a group of bright young minds have been focused on raising both money and awareness in regards to HIV/AIDS through international organisation AVERT, which devotes its research and active campaigning toward the ongoing problem. “HIV and AIDS is a huge issue in third world countries like Sub-Saharan Africa,” says group member Andrew. “We’re taking fundraising to the streets of Melbourne.”
For years, street fundraisers have been a significant part of Melbourne’s vibrant city culture. Now, the involvement of children has affirmed this even more so. Melburnians of all ages have congregated in and around the city to raise both money and awareness for their chosen charity. From marches to specially organised campaigns, kids are getting in on the action and have a real input into the fundraisers we see going on today.
The broader umbrella term of fundraising has come under public scrutiny for the intrusive nature of door-to-door and phone-call methods of fundraising. But contrary to popular belief, street fundraisers – and more specifically, student-organised street fundraisers – have been increasingly welcomed.
Don’t get me wrong: schools have provided students with a forum to express their views on topics of interest, whether that interest be politics, right through to social and environmental issues. Debating teams and School Representative Councils have been introduced to give children a voice that matters within the school community. Students aged 12 – 18 have been eager to contribute to these groups, with the majority finding them very fulfilling.
But young people in this era already find themselves faced with the stark truths that are the reality of our world. The 5pm news aired every evening is enough to make this so. In light of those deep, unnerving awakenings of awareness, advocating for these issues beyond the realms of school has become the preferred option.
Recently, we caught up with the same group of students in action, while throwing their fundraiser for AVERT. The first thing that came to mind was red. Red tablecloths, red ribbons, even red T-shirts. When queried about this element of their event, group member Tom said, “HIV and AIDS has been traditionally advocated for with the colour red, so here we are.” Well, that makes sense then. Each of them were enthusiastic all through the 14 minutes I sat and watched them like a stalker – with good intentions, of course. Handmade bookmarks and a very good saxophone solo were all part of the atmosphere that made this small but important fundraiser successful.
When asked about how they obtained their mass of resources, it became clear that AVERT and similar organisations provide a fundraising package online to get students and their fundraising ideas off the ground. Suggestions are outlined, including Walk-a-thons, dinner parties and more extreme alternatives such as bungee jumping, where students can obtain sponsorship and donations from family and friends in support of their cause.
It was fantastic to see young people “Making a Difference” as their project was titled, (shortened to MAD). “So many kids are getting involved in things that matter, and we believe that AVERT is doing a great job with their work.” said Alex, the saxophonist. “We’re really happy to do something about it.”
You can get involved at AVERT.