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Creating Community Changes

NCMS seventh graders attend TomTod event
Arabella Keim
NCMS seventh graders enjoying their time during TomTod assembly.

Thinking about changes needed in our community may not be on every middle school student’s mind; however, the seventh graders of North Canton Middle School have been thinking about what they might want to change around our community. On Feb. 15, the seventh graders attended the TomTod Community Creative Conference meeting with many different organizations that help within our community. The students got to pitch their own ideas in how they would like to make changes within our city of North Canton. Middle School principal Mr. David Eby speaks on what exactly the Tom Tod program is.

“TomTod is a youth development nonprofit based in Canton, Ohio that listens to, honors, and advocates for middle schoolers,” he said. TomTod is a 12-week program that has been put into every seventh grader’s class schedule through the Wellness class. Leading up to the conference that occurred during week six of the program, they discussed the community of North Canton and all the needs that it has.

Seventh grade science teacher Mrs. Allison Kamyszek goes into further detail about the day.

“This day was designed to help inspire the students to come up with ideas for projects that will benefit the community of North Canton,” she said.

Leading up to the trip, the students learned about many different ways to speak to community leaders and they also learned how to ask questions about the jobs. Along with the way they effect the city we live in. The hope was that discussions the classes had would inspire the students to create projects that would be beneficial to our community. The TomTod program provides many opportunities for the students to learn about ways they are able to help within the place they live.

“Students are provided opportunities for character-oriented education, workforce development, and community engagement that empowers them to be active students in their school and leaders in our community,” Eby said.

During the four-hour trip, the students all started together playing many different games. TomTod Adventure Curator Mr. Rob Lansdale slowly started to introduce all of the wonderful things they were going to get to experience throughout the rest of the time they all spent together.

“Learning about our community, learning about what is in our community, who is in our community, what they are doing in our community,” he said.

All throughout the building there were different stations with so many organizations from around the city. The students had the opportunity to sit and listen to them speak about their mission; they got the chance to be hands on and help out many different groups. They even got to pitch their own ideas on how to enhance our community.

“At the Community Creative Conference, TomTod organized five community partners and over 25 community guests to help students explore the needs of the Stark County community,” Eby said.

Many different perspectives on things all going on within the community that many may not realize. The student got an opportunity to get an inside look on the work of those all around our community.

“Lenna’s Ladybugs is an organization dedicated to ‘Clothing God’s kids around the world,’” Kamyszek said.

Lenna’s Ladybugs is a non-profit that packages clothes for children all around the world. The students got a chance to pack some of these outfits and learn about the organization while at the conference. While some packed up the clothes, other groups got to pack food for those around us who are in need. The students also got the chance to talk with community leaders about their own changes they would like to see, or just ask questions about what the leader does.

“We want you to constantly be thinking about ideas you can come up with,” Lansdale said.
Before breaking off, Lansdale left the students with one final message. While listening to the people sharing around them, think about all the possible ideas they too can come up with to help make our city a better place. All the students then got the chance to talk out the ideas they had come up with.

“I think the Tom Tod experience is beneficial for the students because it allowed them to take a close look at their community,” Kamyszek said.

One of the many ideas shared were the thought of adding more shelters for those who might need a place to stay, allowing them to have a safe space to stay along with food and clothes. The students had realized that there are not many places close by for those who may need it. They took a deep dive into the community and found a problem that they would wish to solve.

“We will continue to collaborate with them through their programming during the school year with our seventh grade Wellness class as well as their summer programming available to all middle school students,” Eby said.

The school plans on continuing with the TomTod program in the future, allowing many different students to get the chance to dive into the place they live. Looking for things they would like to see a change in, and learning how they would be able to create a change.

“I am hoping that the TomTod experience opened up our students’ eyes to the opportunities they have to improve whatever community they live in,” Kamyszek said.

No matter who you are, you have the chance to create a change within your community, or even outside your community. The seventh graders got the opportunity to learn about all the amazing ways they are able to help. Every organization the students got involved in all shared one thing in common.

“It all started with an idea,” Lansdale said.

For more information, visit www.tomtodideas.org.

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About the Contributors
Molly Andrews
Molly Andrews, Sports Editor/Beats Editor
Hello my name is Molly. I am a sophomore and this is my second year on staff. I am apart of the color guard. I enjoy sitting on tables, specifically in O's room and late night taco bell runs.
Arabella Keim
Arabella Keim, PAI Editor
Hi! I’m Arabella, I’m a senior and this is my 3rd year on staff! Here in PAI Land, we are a cinnamon apple pumpkin PAI. I am a varsity and competitive cheerleader. I love Molly Andrews so much; she is the beat queen!