Argentine Walkathon 2014
Those living in Argentina face many unique challenges, which may be taken for granted in other countries. One challenge is obtaining the funding required to maintain a level of schooling on a par with other first world countries.
In the Plymouth Brethren Community, this is achieved by the sacrifice of time and money by many parents and friends, both in Argentina and abroad. The results make the effort to maintain momentum more than worthwhile! The Argentine School is very fortunate to come under the umbrella of Westmount Schooling in New Zealand – they recently became their 18th campus and have benefited in many ways from this.
Due to high inflation and an increased number of students in 2014, the budget was much greater than previously. It was necessary to attack the funding challenge from a unique angle.
The fund raising team set their minds to thinking about ways to raise money. After looking internationally for inspiration, they came across some fundraising activities at Westmount Schools in New Zealand. They got in contact with the fundraising teams and got information on walkathons! Generally held on a Saturday, with 100% participation from all students and community members, they sounded almost too good to be true!
Argentina has three campuses, with great distance between all three. In the end, they decided to have three separate events. Team leaders were appointed for each campus and suitable venues were looked for. The requirements were a nearby location, accessibility for all ages, high security, and had to include a BBQ friendly zone!! While this was happening, the fundraising team went to work and started to look for donations. Two hugely successful campaigns were executed.
The first one was just for NZ. A buddy scheme was launched, a website set up and the community informed. Argentina has 72 students, so these were divided up between ages and campuses and each student assigned to a NZ campus. The NZ team then took over and all students were given a goal to raise donations for their Argie buddies!
The second campaign involved every student and household in Argentina, the goal was every student to raise private donations from friends and family overseas, with an added incentive! Meet the target and all surplus would go towards the new learning Centre required for the Bahia Blanca Students. Once again a hugely successful campaign thanks to the overwhelming support and generosity from so many.
The students knew the targets had been smashed ….now they just needed to walk! A very enjoyable day was had in each of the 3 campuses. The below was written by each campus about the day.
The walkathon was held in a very spacious park area belonging to a Farming University. The day was very successful, starting off with different distant walks 2, 5, & 9 km – depending on different ages and capacities of those walking. Once the walk was completed, there were refreshments and snacks (very much appreciated by this time)!
Following this, we had everybody gather round for a game of hoop-the-bottle. One was required to stand at a fair distance from the bottle and throw a hoop endeavoring to have it land around the bottle. Whoever was first to achieve this obviously got to take the bottle home!! We were to find out that it wasn’t as easy as it looked…! It gets special mention as it was a really successful activity to get EVERYONE involved – including grannies & grandpas etc. etc. There were also football & netball games, a treasure hunt for the children & a children’s corner.
The BBQ tea was fantastic and a heavily loaded table of sweet things to round it off!! By the end of the day we were a tired but enthused crowd heading home, with a satisfying feeling of having participated in raising funds for our children’s school in a fun way where everybody was included.
We headed out to La Salada for our Walkathon. It’s a salt lake 120ks from Bahia Blanca (an hour’s drive.)
The day was looking good and we arrived to see quite a few there who had been busy for hours. There were tents, music, bouncy castles, tables, food preparation, banners, drinks and ice in bins etc. We had the option of 2 distances to walk; 9ks right round the lake, or a shorter 4.5 ks for those less adventurous. After a hearty flapjack breakfast off everyone set.
Some mums and all the babies and toddlers stayed back and waited for the return of the enthusiastic walkers. A team support car was driving round to check on any needs: drinks, ambulance service, even changes of running shoes!
In the meantime, the BBQ was being fired up with plenty of beef and chorizos to feed the hungry walkers. Drinks were also served, followed by lovely cookies and fruit kebabs, with live music in the background.
We enjoyed football and a tug-of-war along with other games before heading off for home after VERY happy day of which the brethren worldwide had entered into.
The walkathon was held at the Ezeiza woods, in a private property we were allowed to use. We very glad for it as it had beautiful scenery, and was only 5 minutes away from some of our homes. It consisted of a 4km and 9km trek through woods and open fields. There was a table set up with midmorning snacks and we were also provided with refreshments before and during the walk which was ideal. The group was split up in two at the 3km sign, those that wanted to do the longer walk had to follow the longest trek. Even though it was a scorching hot day we all made it to the end in one piece!
Waiting for us there were more refreshments and snacks and then we started digging into the tender BBQ’d beef
After lunch, everyone had a good laugh watching and joining in games like tug of war (singles against married), sack races, spoon and egg races, etc.
The little kids had their own play area and were very entertained with some jumping castles and games like table soccer.
At the end of the day primary and secondary school kids sang a few songs they had practiced during the year. Even though there was no stage it sounded great!
Thanks to everyone’s hard work everyone had a great day and enjoyed every bit of it!
Some comments from the students:
Kristy (Bahia Blanca) – “All in all it was the most awesome and fun day out!!”
Gemma (Rosario) – “Walking through the forest was the best part. With a treasure Hunt and football game, the day was excellent!!”
Stuart (Buenos Aires) – “It was like a family outing, all the local brethren were there.”
Lauren (Buenos Aires) – “Overall, it was a great day which everyone enjoyed, and it was nice to see old and young mingling together, enjoying one another’s company!”
Calvin (Rosario) “Special thanks to the security team, the cooks, the guides and all those who made this day possible. I would like to finish off with many thanks to all those who helped to support the education in Argentina by donating in this walkathon event!”