Two years ago 8-year-old Olivia Clement suffered from low self-esteem and was struggling at school, particularly with math, to the point where she would often cry herself to sleep at night. Her Mom Julie was heartbroken.
Now the Grade 5 student is taking polar bears to the world with her LivPolarBear project and speaking to up to 200 students at a time. Her self-esteem has skyrocketed and she’s a completely different person.
How did she do it?
“She needed help with math and I needed to inspire her at the same time,” said Julie. “She loves animals and has always liked crafts so we came up with a project that would include all those things. She started to make clay polar bears and sell them to her friends and family, along with materials that they could make their own bears with, encouraging them to pay it forward. I incorporated math by counting the funds raised and adding graphs and charts etc.”
In just three months Olivia raised over $2,500, which was matched by the Coca Cola Arctic Home Campaign, resulting in a $5,000 donation to help polar bears. A Polar Bear Party was organized in Ottawa and over 15 local companies and entertainers made the celebration a huge success. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson even made a special guest appearance!
Then things really started to take off.
Olivia was interviewed by the Ottawa Citizen for an article entitled Bear Necessities, met WWF polar bear biologist Geoff York, and appeared in a TV interview with WWF Arctic Homeland Director Martin Von Mirbach on CTV Morning News in Ottawa. She was also featured on the World Wildlife Foundation Blog and there was even a beautiful inspirational fundraising song recorded by the talented Kaija Thaggard entitled Starts With Me. Well worth a listen!
And what did Olivia think of all the attention?
“At first I was nervous,” she said. “But now it’s just fun. I like it and my friends like it too and they want to help. So that’s cool!”
Word of the unique pay-it-forward polar bear project continued to spread and Olivia began speaking to hundreds of students at different schools about her fundraising and the plight of the polar bears. Additionally, one of the sponsors of the Polar Bear Party asked Olivia to be a guest presenter at the summer Zoo Crew Camp, where she inspired over 40 children. Olivia also got her Girl Guide troop involved in making polar bears as part of helping them earn their “Endangered Species” badge. Olivia will be presenting at local schools again this fall.
“The improvement in her confidence and self-esteem has been unbelievable,” said Julie. “The Vice-Principal at her school tells me that Olivia helps other needy children and is very patient with them and shows strong leadership skills. She feels like she has something to offer the world. She has a huge heart and a will to inspire other children around her. What more could a parent ask for?”
A Web site is currently in development, and a Pay-It-Forward Children’s Art Competition is being organized, where children are being asked to put brush and imagination to canvas to come up with a masterpiece related to the Arctic Homeland. Paintings are to be on canvas, no bigger than 9” by 12” and include name, age, address and phone number. Age groups for the competition are 3-5 years, 6-8, 9-12, 13-16 and 16 and older. Artwork collection points are currently being set up.
Winners of the competition will be announced at the Christmas Polar Party on December 21, and winning canvases will be sold via live auction at the party. All other art work will also be sold for donations.
Julie and Olivia felt it was especially important to recognize everyone who contributes artwork to the competition. As a result, all submitted work will be auctioned off at the party and every child will be able to feel proud that they were able to do something to help the polar bears. The idea is to inspire children and to get them to research their Arctic Homeland online, while also creating some wonderful art work.
The Christmas Polar Party will be held on December 21, 2013 from 1-4 p.m. at the Prince of Wales Manor Home in Ottawa, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Polar Bear Conservation Act. There will be a number of local entertainers and companies sponsoring the event including Rogers TV and Tim Hortons, and they are hoping for another special guest appearance by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. Polar bear movies will be played, raffle prizes given way, and of course, Santa himself will be there telling the children stories about the troubles that his neighbourhood friends the polar bears are having.
“Together, we can help chart a sustainable future for one of the most important places on earth, the Arctic,” said Olivia in a news release. “Your support will go toward WWF’s work focused on the area where the Arctic sea ice is predicted to persist the longest in the face of climate change. We will work to help protect the communities and wildlife that thrive in this unique ecosystem, and for the planet that depends on it. The money I raise with the help of your generous support will make a huge difference to WWF’s conservation work across Canada and around the globe! We are not too small to stand tall! I hope that I have inspired you to help me pay it forward.”
“LivPolarBear is really all about inspiring children to understand that they are not too small and can stand tall,” said Julie.
“Not everyone can be a straight-A student or a sports star at school, but all children have something to offer, a special interest that makes them happy or a unique talent for something. When they’re this young you can really inspire them with a little help. Find out what they like and figure out how you can make it more fun for them.”