A group of Grade 6 and 7 students in Berwick, N.S., are inspiring their community to make a difference after a homeless man died in a suspicious bus shelter fire last fall.
People in Berwick are still trying to cope after the shocking death of Harley Lawrence after the bus shelter he was sleeping in went up in flames around 2 a.m. on Oct. 23, 2013.
Though they may be It's an unlikely group of advisers, Grade 6 and Grade 7 students at Berwick and District School spent time brainstorming what they knew about Lawrence and ways they can make a difference in their community.
"When we first started, we really had no idea what we getting into. We just thought we were going to be learning about our community and poverty and discrimination. But when we came, it was way different. We had no idea we were going to be talking about Harley," said Grade 7 student Kelsey Jordan.
It didn't take long to fill the board with ideas.
"Just to figure out more with the group of my peers, how to make it better in our town and it's not just Harley. It's ways to make our town better after what happened," said Grade 6 student Jessica Faulkenham.
Cari Patterson, a racism and discrimination consultant, and Julie Glasser, with the Town of Berwick, helped shape the discussion. The plan is to have the students present to the public.
"They were very brave, very courageous. They want to share their ideas with council and the community at large. So it's very inspiring and wonderful to see. It makes me very hopeful for the future," said Patterson.
These students believe they have an important role.
“We learned that not only can adults do all the work, but students and children as young as us can also take part in change,” said Grade 6 Braxton Burns.
"I think it's a step towards closure, not on a chapter but on feelings, on unresolved feelings in the community. And that really was where we started at our meeting with the students. There was a lot of conversation about how people felt," said Glasser.
The public meeting will be held here at the Lions Club in Berwick on Feb. 17.
The goal is to have everyone come together to lend their thoughts on what should be done to help the community move forward following Lawrence’s tragic death.