A group of junior high students walked the extra mile on Tuesday, October 25, in an effort to help save babies.
Students from the William McKinley Intermediate School (I.S. 259), 7301 Fort Hamilton Parkway, participated in a school-wide March of Dimes fundraiser, walking laps in the schoolyard after class hours.
According to the organization, the March of Dimes helps to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
“I believe our students are well informed,” Jessica Amato, the community outreach person at McKinley said, “and aware of the global issues and the importance of giving back to the community and trying to save lives.”
John Quaglione, the co-chairperson of the newly formed Brooklyn Chapter of the March of Dimes New York, spearheaded the initiative, according to Amato. His daughter, Natalie, was born prematurely in 2011.
The event, attended by students in the sixth through eighth grades, raised about $1,600.
“I think [the students] learned that anytime you do an event like this, it brings light to the issue,” Amato said. “By taking action or a stance, their voice is heard and they’re adding to the difference, to the cause, and towards helping find a cure.”
Moreover, the students took it upon themselves to gather everything necessary to make the fundraiser possible. Amato said they found sponsors and donors. The school’s motivation cheerleaders and mascot also participated in the event.
“These students were very enthusiastic to begin with, so they spread the word,” Amato said. “It’s always a joy to see students taking action to solving a problem. I think action is really the key.”
In addition to the students, the faculty and staff at McKinley also got involved. Parent coordinator Diane Castignani contacted the 68th Precinct’s Community Affairs Office and invited the officers to attend.
“We’re working very hard on building community relationship,” Amato said. “We want to invite the community in to our door. With full community support, it promotes success. The goal is to show that the community cares about the students.”
Police Officer Mike Panepinto, his partner and the 68th Precinct’s Commanding Officer Joseph Hayward joined McKinley’s march. Panepinto said it was his first time.
“The kids seemed to have a fun time and we enjoyed it as well,” he said. “If they would do something like that again, I would definitely participate.”
In addition to walking, the students had a dance break in the schoolyard with a DJ present.
Amato said the dance solidified the importance of promoting good health.
“I’m proud of our students,” she added. “They have the capacity to do extraordinary work. Initially, a lot of students are not so confident in this age group. But once you give them the opportunity, they soar with that. So I’d like to believe they can do great things.”