IB students in fourth grade are asked to select a theme that they want to explore as a class for their Primary Years Program (PYP) Exhibition in fifth grade. Then, they each dive into the Exhibition by researching a topic of their own choosing within the theme, as the culmination of their PYP journey. Brendan's first pick was to research the NFL. But then, he says, he thought harder.
"In the end, I chose poverty because I am really passionate about trying to help make a change," Brendan shares.
Through his investigation, Brendan noticed right away that poverty and homelessness are widespread. He explains: "There are many places in the world that are now realizing that poverty is similar to global warming — it's a worldwide problem and everyone needs to think about it."
Brendan was first exposed to people living in extreme poverty in a part of Ecuador during a trip a few years ago — a memorable experience. "It really shocked me. It even scared me a bit to see how people were so used to it. I wanted to help fix it," he shares.
As a result of his in-depth Exhibition research, Brendan identified the places in the world where poverty is most severe, its causes, and ways to help. He suggests a range of actions to help alleviate poverty and homelessness, from protesting governments to demand policy changes and working to reduce gender inequity, to making donations and spreading the word on social media. A great place to start, Brendan says, is to simply, "Show some respect and don't act like people are invisible. Say 'Good morning' or 'Hello, how are you?'"
How else can you help? Brendan reports, "You can collaborate with a local soup kitchen and volunteer!" Together with his grandparents, he collected and packed toothbrushes and other toiletries and handed them out at a local soup kitchen in New York City. "We made about 150 of those baggies and when we brought them to the soup kitchen, it was great to see people smile!"
When he's not volunteering with family, Brendan keeps busy with after-school activities like dodgeball, flag football, and baking wars! His favorite thing about Dwight is the community.
"I love the people around me, my teachers are awesome, and I have so many friends," he shares. A Dwight student since preschool, Brendan adds that newcomers are welcomed warmly: "I feel like one thing everybody should know is that it's so easy to adjust to Dwight."
While he loves sports, Brendan considers his true spark of genius to be making a change and helping people. He plans to carry on with the work and research he did in preparation for the PYP Exhibition.
"I got so much information for the Exhibition — I want to really use it for something! This may sound kind of far-fetched, but I was planning on opening my own soup kitchen to help the homeless because I feel like it's so great to do things to make other people happy."
Not far-fetched at all! As he prepares to enter Middle School in the fall, we can't wait to see the positive impact Brendan will continue to have on the world and people around him. We're sure he's only just begun!