Children’s Advocacy and the Power of Spare Change

WRITTEN BY: Michelle Boise

In November 2015, Henry and Rose Jensen, (both 8 years old), wanted to help raise money for Beyond Type 1 in its Million Dollar Campaign for Type 1 diabetes. They each brought a mason jar to their school in order to collect spare change, and the class with the most change earned a pizza party. Friday Harbor Elementary School, located on a tiny island of San Juan, Washington has a student population of a mere 389, so the goal of $500 from student donations seemed ambitious.

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Students managed to surpass that goal though, raising $800 for the nonprofit that is funding cutting edge research and new ways to educate people globally on the chronic illness of Type 1 diabetes. Founded last February by pop star Nick Jonas, chef Sam Talbot, philanthropist Sarah Lucas and venture capitalist Juliet De Baubigny, Beyond Type 1  also surpassed it’s initial million dollar goal not only by securing big donors but also through grassroots efforts like this one.

Henry and Rose’s mother, Sara Jensen, who also is the Creative Director at Beyond Type 1 explained, “Kids are often removed from what they are fundraising for, but in this case they were bringing in their own money.” Henry, who has Type 1 diabetes, is more than a face to the cause — he is their fellow classmate and friend. The competition raised funds as well as awareness for the disease with students asking questions about Henry’s condition.

“The fundraiser was Henry and Rose’s idea,” said Jensen, “and they had to present it to the school’s student council for approval. When Ella Raichlen, (a fourth grader who serves as student council treasurer and assists in counting and delivering the funds), heard that it was for a million-dollar campaign, her eyes got real wide. ‘Who will count the million dollars?!’ she’d asked.”

jensen_pizza_party_2Of course $800 was much more manageable for counting than a million dollars and with the help of the change machine at the Islander’s Bank, the kids were thrilled by the results. Even though Henry’s class had won the competition and pizza party, Jensen thought that the efforts by all students should be rewarded, so she contacted Lopez Island Creamery for a school ice cream party. When she told the owner what the ice cream was for, Jensen recalls, “He said he couldn’t give us a discount, but wanted to instead donate the entire 40 gallons of ice cream to feed the elementary school, because the story was so inspiring.”

Jensen and her family who have been living in the community for six years now were moved by the contributions of everyone there, both big and small. “We learned that children, too, could advocate for causes they believed in,” said Jensen, “and also that mint chocolate chip is a favorite over strawberry. Who knew.”

Want to organize your own DIY fundraiser for Beyond Type 1? Check out these ideas.

Michelle Boise

Michelle believes that a single story has the ability to reshape the world. She has a BA in English literature and Spanish and a MFA in writing from the University of San Francisco. As a writer, editor and content guru, she's worked on both literary magazines and e-commerce platforms. Before joining the Beyond Type 1 team, she developed health-conscious articles for Fitbit. When she's not writing, you can find her tap dancing in the house with her little white dog or painting with acrylics (they dry faster).