Local 8th graders sell bracelets to help student in Guatemala attend high school

Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 6:00 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The 8th grade at St. Anthony de Padua School is helping a teenager in Central America have a shot at attending four years of high school, thanks to a service project that’s taken the South Bend parochial school by storm.

For the last two weeks, the unusually small class of 12 is selling artisan-made bracelets called Yuda Bands. The students have now sold more than 200 bands, which means the Guatemalan student the class is sponsoring – a teenager named Brenan – will be able to afford four years of high school.

“As I understand it, in Guatemala, the education is paid for through a certain grade level. But then after that, the families are responsible for the payment. And so a program like Yuda Bands helps students who can’t afford it go to school,” explained Linda Waltz, the 8th grade teacher at St. Anthony’s.

8th grader Carter Zielinski said the Yuda Band Project has made him more appreciative of being able to go to school.

“When we first heard this student in Guatemala can’t go to school that often, we just thought we didn’t want to go to school, didn’t want to wake up and go to school. And we’re just taking school for granted,” said Zielinski.

Classmate Ivy Phung remarks on how the service project has further unified her class.

“I enjoy that we get closer together, and we think of ways to sell them,” said Phung.

Waltz said her students are excited to take the lead on the Yuda Band Project.

“I see them excited every day, like wondering, ‘How many we sold today? And can we go ask the classes if they have money today to help?’ And so I think they’re really focused on the goal. And they’re appreciative that they can help [Brenan] in that way, personally,” added Waltz.

The students have been able to meet Brenan over a Zoom call.

“I liked that we’re able to Zoom and speak with Brenan. That is - that was my favorite part,” said 8th grader Caleb Chalstrom.

For Waltz, the Yuda Brand Project incorporates some of her favorite aspects about teaching.

“Anytime you make education a real connection, whether it’s through math, which I teach, or other subjects, but especially with our faith in religion, it’s so important that they have a connection. So just seeing how they can learn that service is important, of course, it’s super meaningful,” she said.

A portion of the proceeds also supports the artisans who make the Yuda Bands.

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