With the pandemic’s effects on the school year, it may be difficult to interact with other people. You may not have the same amount of time to share, but CAS projects can help keep you in touch.
Casa Somos is a project that belongs to the municipality of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. This organization has various free workshops with the aim of strengthening knowledge and skills for people of all ages who live in Quito. There are several Casa Somos spaces in the city, one in every neighborhood. Collectively, the leaders of Casa Somos and my school decided to create a creativity and service CAS project which is called Casa Somos.
In this project, we help low-income kids aged 5-12 with different activities we think they may enjoy. The activities we do with the kids change every school term, but we always include cooking, drawing, storytelling, science projects, and, when the kids get tired, games. Sometimes the activities we do correspond to a festivity or important event, such as Christmas. Last year, we baked sugar cookies while listening to villancicos, the traditional Ecuadorian music for Christmas.
When the pandemic started, this CAS project became virtual. Many Casa Somos kids live with financial restraints, and paying for Internet is difficult. Thankfully, the municipality of Quito gave a free tablet to every low-income house with kids and an Internet card to ensure their continuity in school, and the Casa Somos kids could continue to participate in the activities. This year, the project has worked differently. Interacting with little kids through a screen is hard sometimes, but from my point of view, the project has improved because we have been able to reach more kids through Zoom.
How this project works
The sessions consist of each child registered in Casa Somos, guests from other cities in Ecuador, and all of us who participate on behalf of my school. Every Thursday, from 4-5pm, different recreational activities are carried out with different learning outcomes and objectives in smaller groups (breakout rooms). At the end of the session, we talk about the activity of the day in the main room. The purpose of this project is to encourage creativity in children and do activities with them so that it is entertaining and positive. We try to create activities where they learn something new and still be safe, as many of them stay home alone while their parents work.
CAS requirements for this project
As with any other CAS project, there are certain requirements that need to be fulfilled. I will explain my school’s, but each institution may vary. To start the project, we have to complete a mandatory activity planning form. Here, we mention the CAS elements it has (creativity and service) and give a brief description of the project, the objectives, the learning outcomes we hope to get, the needs and materials, and the expected results. Then, we plan the activities we will do with the children each week. For this, we create a detailed planning chart that includes the date, activity, objective, materials, beneficiaries, and learning outcome acquired. Finally, each week we do diaries and reflections. This project usually takes 1 hour per week, not including the time for journaling.
My experience in the project
Before starting the IBDP, I knew I wanted to be part of Casa Somos and do a project with them for CAS, perhaps by giving piano lessons or hosting a cooking workshop. From the beginning, I’ve been really happy to spend time and engage in activities with these kids and my friends. We’ll usually put on music to get motivated, and the times we finish early, we watch movies, TV shows or play games! This hour is special to me, because it allows me to relax and have fun while simultaneously helping improve the community. The kids are always happy and have a lot of energy, which keeps us busy! Every day, they tell us about new things they’ve learned or show us new skills they’ve acquired.
Last week, for example, we learned to make ice cream. It was really fun, as each kid chose to make their ice cream with different flavours and ingredients, and we had to be aware of what each kid was doing. We finished early, so we played Párame la mano. Our CAS supervisor entered the Zoom breakout room and won the game. Then, the kids asked us riddles and we finished the activities of the day by listening to them play the guitar.
This community project is really special and gratifying. If you want to do a CAS project like this, you can search for organizations or NGOs that work with children in your country. You can propose this idea to your CAS supervisor and talk to your friends and other IB students who are interested in joining you! When you have a group formed, you can call the organization to coordinate the viability of the project and start planning activities.
This is an idea for a service and creativity project. Hopefully, it helped you brainstorm for more CAS ideas. Remember that CAS is an opportunity for you to try new things, so try to make the most out of this time!