Springside School, an all girls preparatory school in Philadelphia, Pa, decided to take a group of students to Senegal in June 2010. Stephanie Kasten, one of the French teachers at Springside, chose to bring a select group of students to this very different French speaking country. The trip would combine a French language immersion and a partnership between two schools in Senegal, Lycée JFK in Dakar and Ndioum in Guede Chantier. The students would be housed with families in the both the city and rural communities, where no one spoke English.
Before the trip, Melissa Beight, one of the students who would be going to Senegal in the spring, found the Made With Love bracelets in a store in Nantucket. After reading about the project, she learned that the proceeds of the bracelets would benefit a boys home in Senegal. This home, known as Empire des Enfants, is located in Dakar and serves to help boys from the streets become educated and return to their families. The girls at Springside sold the Made With Love recycled rubber bracelets, which allowed them to pay for the girls from Lycée JFK in Dakar to join them in Ndioum, located on the border of Mauritania. Many of the girls from JFK had never left Dakar. Therefore, the proceeds helped the boys at Empire des Enfants, the women of Djenné, Mali, West Africa, and the girls from JFK.
While the girls built many friendships in Senegal, they brought their new Senegalese friends to Empire des Enfants with them. Both the students from JFK and Springside were eager to visit Empire des Enfants. The money from the bracelets that they had bought had afforded the boys clothes, school supplies, and a place to sleep. Not only were the girls from Springside wearing the bracelets, but their new friends from Senegal were wearing them as well. Eager to make contact with the children, the girls brought the boys deflated beach balls. These beach balls had been used and signed by the 1st graders at Springside. The students began to blow up the beach balls. Instantly, the room was alive. Boys started jumping everywhere, each one carrying at least two beach balls. Their faces lit up while they threw and kicked around the balls with each other.
The girls were overwhelmed with joy, almost as much as the boys were to see them. They sang songs together until they had to leave. The girls left, amazed at how such a small act had such a large impact. The girls from Springside continue to sell the bracelets at school and hope to go back to Senegal in 2012.