George Washington Middle School student Liam Davis-Wallace was thinking about bones. Not just any kind of bones, but human bones. He was thinking of human bones that might be lying around on the ground. It was unnerving.
It was part of the curriculum at school to help students better understand international affairs.
The Alexandria City Public Schools study unit is related to an event planned for June on the National Mall—One Million Bones, a collaborative art installation recognizing victims and survivors who have been killed or displaced by genocides in Somalia, Burma, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Artists, activists and students are making “bones” to showcase the issue.
“In my school I was told about Somalian suffering and how our school was going to do a fundraiser. Everyone was going to make a clay bone and each bone was worth $1,” Liam told Patch via email. “I felt that I wanted to help with more than just $1, and I wanted to feel like I was really making a difference. By making my own fundraiser I felt like I was contributing more than just the $1. When I'm doing my laps, I'm going to try harder than if I was just doing it for the fun of it.”
Liam had come home a little different that day after studying the International Baccalaureate curriculum. “It struck him that many families had been separated from each other. They didn’t have what they needed to survive,” said Liam’s mother, Jessica Wallace. “He was bummed out.”
She checked in with the school’s guidance counselor and talked to Emmet Rosenfeld, who is an ACPS coordinator for the IB program.
After determining that the content was age appropriate, the family, based in Alexandria’s Rosemont neighborhood, brainstormed about how to turn around Liam’s mood and energy into something positive.
He would do a triathlon fundraiser and donate the money to Somalian children through UNICEF.
On Feb. 24, he’s going to raise money for children in Somalia by doing as many laps as he can at the Y as well bike and run as many times around his block as he can.
He has sponsors for his event “Liam’s Laps through Somalia” through his UNICEF event page and seeks to raise at least $1,000.
“When it comes to saving lives, I want to be an overachiever,” Liam said.