By Jensen, Randy on April 30, 2020.
Following the impactful launch of the first One District One Book initiative in Lethbridge School Division, the organizing committee is continuing the message of “Wishtree” by Katherine Applegate, in the community during this tough time.
Last year, organizers of the One District One Book initiative raised funds to purchase 13,000 copies of “Wishtree” for all of the students in the district to read together, from kindergarten to Grade 12. Through the students sharing the story with their family and neighbours, the message spread and this year, even with the restrictions, organizers are keeping the positive momentum going.
“Our plans certainly changed when the schools closed. We found as a committee to proceed with Wishing Day on May 1, and it was introduced to us in the book ‘Wishtree’ by Katherine Applegate,” says Michelle Dimnik, One District One Book committee member. “On May 1, 2019, Kathrine came to Lethbridge which was a pretty big deal because she is an author out of the States that has won the Newberry Award and has one of her books being made into a movie and she has done well. So for her to come here and take part in ‘Wishtree’ was a wish come true for us and last year when she came, she presented to our students in three places and we got all of our students involved on Wishing Day.”
Applegate left a strong impression on the students, as she had all of them think about their wishes for themselves and the people around them. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, the committee thought it would be good to continue the story of inspiration by encouraging the community to share their wishes with each other, read the book with others, tie coloured ribbons or pieces of cloth on trees in front yards to show support, and post pictures of your “Wishtree” online.
“She asked the students to think of a wish for themselves, a wish for someone else and a wish for the world. It was powerful, it was an amazing project, story and her coming to our city,” says Dimnik. “A year later, we thought more than ever that we needed an opportunity to come together as a community and tell the world our wishes, tell our neighbours our wishes or tell the tree our wishes. Of course we can’t do it up close, but we can go out into our neighbourhood and collectively come together to share our wishes.
“It had a very significant impact on our community and the power of this story is that it is told from a red oak tree in the neighbourhood that has noticed over generations that how we treat people is fairly significant,. The message that this book gives us is that we need to be kind, tolerant, understanding and we need to accept all of the different people in our neighbourhoods and in our world and I think that it is very powerful right now.”
Since the launch of the One District One Book initiative, Lethbridge School Division has been able to redistribute many of the books to other schools, plant wish trees at various schools in the city and share the powerful message of equality throughout the community. For more information visit wishtreeboook.com, and copies can be found in free library boxes throughout the city, as well as an eBook version at the Lethbridge Public Library.
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