While many students were busy with Frosh Week festivities, Parker Armstrong was working to empower children to go to school in Nicaragua, where only 56% of children graduate from primary school.
Armstrong, an engineering student at Carleton University, traded classes for concrete this summer as he travelled to Nicaragua to complete an internship with the non-governmental organization (NGO) SchoolBOX. Parker worked alongside SchoolBOX’s construction crew to build three classrooms in impoverished Nicaraguan communities, and to evaluate the sustainability of the organization’s programs.
Parker first became involved with SchoolBOX as a high school student from North Gower, and became motivated to contribute to SchoolBOX’s mission of “Making Education Possible” in even bigger ways. Through his engineering internship this summer, he produced a report on the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of SchoolBOX’s programs, specifically their Tools 4 Schools program, which has constructed 80 classrooms in Nicaragua to date.
Parker credits his studies in Architectural Conservation and Sustainability Engineering at Carleton University for providing him with important technical expertise, which he put into practice in Nicaragua, where only 56% of children graduate primary school according to UNICEF. Parker designed the plans for a new bathroom built at the Mirna Martinez School, in the Valle de Las Americas, Nicaragua, that would conserve building materials, but provide spacious and clean facilities for the children and teachers to use.
He stressed the importance of having a humble attitude, and working alongside communities to empower them and give them hope. “A lot of times, communities feel they can never break out of poverty, but I hope the work that SchoolBOX is doing helps them to know they can have a better future”.
Sarah Kerr, SchoolBOX’s Executive Director, expressed her gratitude for Parker’s contribution to the organization. “His research, which intersects both engineering and development perspectives, is helping us to better achieve our mission. His work is already having a real-world impact in Nicaragua.”
Parker is also partnering with a group of friends and members of the North Gower and Stittsville area community to raise funds for SchoolBOX. The money they have raised so far will go towards the construction of another new bathroom using Parker’s design. Their larger goal is to raise enough money to build an entire classroom with SchoolBOX.
Parker and his friends are hosting a ‘Paint Night’ fundraiser for SchoolBOX in Ottawa this November. To learn more about this and other fundraising events, check the SchoolBOX Facebook page or visit the website at www.schoolbox.ca/events.
SchoolBOX is committed to ‘Making Education Possible’ for the children of Nicaragua. SchoolBOX implements cost effective programming by building schools, providing school supplies, libraries, and teacher training. SchoolBOX has built 80 classrooms, and 46 washrooms in Nicaragua and serves over 17,487 students and teachers in 96 communities on an annual basis.
Our community is united in love for the children we serve and the belief that education can defeat poverty. SchoolBOX is comprised of thousands of people from different faiths and socioeconomic backgrounds. We empower educators and students, and they in turn empower their communities and change our world.
(Article via SchoolBOX.)