Four Fairmont Preparatory Academy students came together earlier this year, taking a huge leap into the unknown to create their own non-profit organization, The Literacy Movement. The organization was created by students Lauren J., Camille M., Savana Z., and Kellen Z. with the purpose of encouraging literacy and education throughout the world.
Far and Out of Reach
The idea to begin The Literacy Movement formed as a suggestion by Camille’s and Lauren’s moms in January of this year.
“They threw the idea out there and let us decide whether this was something we wanted to do or not, and they let us know that this wouldn’t be easy,” the girls said in a statement. “It would require a lot of our time, effort, and dedication to get a non-profit running, but we all decided that this was something we wanted to do.”
The girls hit the ground running, deciding to assist the Philippines first by donating books to a local high school and establishing a library. To get the books they needed, The Literacy Movement promoted a book drive at their former elementary and middle school, Fairmont Private Schools – Historic Anaheim Campus. Flyers were made and emails were sent home to families at the campus asking for book donations for the planned library in Pagsanjan, Laguna’s Hocsom Elementary School and for Tagaytay’s Calatangan High School.
“The task, at first, was really daunting,” the girls said. “It seemed like something so far and out of reach — the prospect of building our own library in the Philippines. But, we all worked hard to see this project be successful and we’re now departing very, very soon for [the Philippines].”
Doing Good in the World
Despite being aware of the challenges and difficult tasks they would face building up the organization, the four decided it was worth it to prove that one’s youth shouldn’t affect turning great ideas into reality.
“Something we really want to stress is that everyone can help in any way possible,” they said. “Often times, students like ourselves believe that our age holds us back from doing good in the world. We wanted to prove with this non-profit that with hard work and collaboration, you can really do anything you set your mind to.”
The group said the work also reminds them of how lucky they are to have a private school education when children in other parts of the world can have trouble accessing books.
“Growing up as Fairmont students, we’ve been given countless opportunities and privileges,” the girls said. “We’ve had great teachers, an expansive library, and functional labs with college-level technology. Yet, other schools aren’t exactly as fortunate as we are. This project puts things in perspective for us and grounds us.”
Love of Literature
While the four specifically asked for non-fiction books, primarily science texts, for the book drive, they each have a wide range of literature tastes.
“My favorite book genres are fantasy and nonfiction,” said Savana. “The Harry Potter series was a dream-come-true to my fantasy-loving preteen self.”
Kellen agreed, naming fantasy series like Percy Jackson as a favorite, though she added she also enjoys teen romance novels like Twilight.
“Basically anything that makes me forget about school and homework,” Kellen said. “I think reading is a form to expand one’s imagination and creativity; everyone should be able to enjoy a good book in their free time.”
Camille’s favorite genres include young adult fiction. She listed Looking for Alaska by John Green as her favorite book.
“I like the books that evoke emotions – the ones that make me angry, or the ones that make me cry,” Camille said. “One of my favorite feelings is when you finish a really good book and it’s a bit bittersweet because while the book was really good, you feel somewhat empty because you’re done and you don’t know what to do with yourself.”
Lauren is open to any genre of books, so long as the story is well written.
“I’ve always been passionate about reading,” she said. “Growing up with two older brothers, I was routinely excluded in their activities. To me, reading provided an outlet for the loneliness – an opportunity to go on adventures through space and time without ever having to leave my room. Not only did the protagonist get to go on their journey, I did too.”
The girls’ mutual love of reading may have a larger impact on the world than they might have previously guessed. After working with the schools in the Philippines, The Literacy Movement is hoping to extend their reach as far as they can to assist as many people as possible.
“We’re considering becoming involved in Brazil, as one of our members is from there,” the group said. “There are many unprivileged schools around the world and we want to try to help as many schools as we can.”
The book drive at the Fairmont Historic Anaheim Campus has since ended, but the four are still accepting books and encourage those wishing to make donations to reach out.
“A book that may be useless to you, could be useful for others,” the girls said.
The grand idea may be a lot to tackle for four high school students already balancing academics and social lives, but their determination keeps them hard at work.
“Kids like us are very smart and are teeming with ideas,” they said. “Sometimes, we just never get the courage to explore them and try them. Through this project, we wanted to show people that if you have an idea that does some good, then go for it.”
To donate books to The Literacy Movement, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Book donations can include any genre.