Global Activism: Skokie teacher inspires students towards activism

May 29, 2014

Photo by Shelley-Nizynski Reese
Ghanian kindergarten

Jennifer Ciok is a Middle School teacher in Skokie, IL. She encourages activism and community in her students. Working with students through her group Aiding Children Together (ACT), they come up with ideas to help children in Ghana with food, medicine, and education. Ciok says her “wonderful and passionate students share a love of helping others and truly making a difference in the world around them.” She’ll update us on her kids and the help they’re giving Global Activist Shelley Nizymski’s group A Better Life for Kids’’, with an upcoming walk-a-thon.

5th Annual Change for Change Walkathon:

June 3rd, 2014, 8:00 am

Starting from McCracken Middle School, 8000 E Prairie Rd, Skokie, ILJennifer Ciok’s work has had a life-changing effect on her:

“Working with students through Aiding Children Together has been such a positive part of my career at McCracken Middle School. I have seen such wonderful and passionate students share a love of helping others and truly making a difference in the world around them. Throughout the year, the group grows as more and more students realize the importance of the impact being made. They can see how they are helping the children in Ghana with food, medicine, and education through the stories and pictures that Shelley Nizynski, founder of A Better Life for Kids, shares with them. They visit Rustic Falls Nature Camp in Burlington, Wisconsin, founded by the Lentz family, to help clean and beautify the grounds to make it a place where children can enjoy nature and get away from the problems they are facing.

When we wrote to Congresswoman Schakowsky in 2010 regarding the violation of children’s rights around the world, I had no idea that it would grow into such a positive piece of the school community. Starting next year, service learning will be a part of every grade. I tell my students each year to find their passion and act on it, and I truly hope that they will become a generation who will go out and make the world a better place.”

McCracken Students talk about their activism:

--It has been such a tremendous experience...By the fifth meeting or so, I realized that I wasn’t doing it because my friends were there, I genuinely felt as though I could contribute to something bigger. You are the figurehead of ACT, but you lead in a way that we, as students, feel as though we are making the changes in the world, not just helping to make them happen. I have been so empowered to “do good” and stick to a club that helps to do so.

--The club ACT has changed my life in so many ways, and I would not be able to say that without the help of one of my teachers, Mrs. Jennifer Ciok. She taught me the ways of helping others and putting others before yourself. I changed my views on life and now think of how thankful I should be for having a house over my head, food to eat, education, and extra things that are not necessarily needed in order to survive.

--I had the opportunity to be a part of ACT, and it was one of the most rewarding, empowering, and special things I ever did. The happiness and joy that I received every time I saw a picture of a child going to school and having a smile on their face was priceless!! These experiences and the lessons that it has taught me are the reasons why I love helping others. I'm so thankful for everything that I have, the love that my family and friends express towards me, the opportunity to have a education, and a roof over my head! One of my biggest dreams is to have the opportunity to travel to Ghana and be able to be the one holding the babies, spreading love, witnessing kids go to school and just being there for the kids! Thank you especially to Ms. Nizynski and Ms. Ciok for inspiring me and many others to reach beyond your world and truly make a difference in someone's life!!!