Last year was a pretty crazy year for One Girl. Do It In A Dress went viral. Seriously viral.
And the outcome was groundbreaking not just for us here in Australia, but for our education programs in Sierra Leone and Uganda!
A group of students from Craigburn Primary School signed up to take part in Do It In A Dress 2017 as a class. They set their fundraising target at $900, they put on their school dresses, and rallied their school for support!
At the same time, Australia was in the middle of a great debate around marriage equality. It all started after a politician tweeted about the Craigburn students in their school dresses: “One school in SA now has ‘wear a dress day’. This gender morphing is really getting absurd.”
This criticism of the student’s fundraising missed the mark entirely. And it wasn’t just us who noticed. Comedian Josh Thomas weighed in on the conversation and donated $2,000 to Craigburn’s fundraising page!
Josh’s tweet triggered a HUGE wave of support and donations, which sparked an even bigger media frenzy. Before we knew it, Craigburn’s story was featured on The Project, ABC News, SBS News, Sky News and Weekend Sunrise! It was also featured in over 178 online articles and shared all across social!
By the end of the campaign, Craigburn Primary had raised $311,381, which is enough to educate 1,037 girls! Mind-blowing.
Now, a year on from this massive event, our CEO Sarah Ireland had a chat with Paul Luke, the Principal at Craigburn Primary, to reflect on the impact it had on the students, their school, and the entire community!
“I went online and I thought ‘this is crazy!’ … Within half an hour I had received support from our department’s Chief Executive and the Minister for Education … The next day we had news crew on our doorstep… our media advisor said, ‘the ABC would like to do a radio interview with you’ and it snowballed.”
“I think they [the students] were really tuning into the political nature of what was happening out there. A lot of it was about seeing the translation of donations into the number of girls who would be educated … the kids were watching the counter go up on the One Girl website!
“We had people come off the street on the first day when it all blew up. Two old fellows … heard it on the radio, were driving past and just wanted to come in and donate $20. On the whole, people could see what the school was doing and responded accordingly” said Paul.
And we think that’s pretty incredible. Even though this was such a massive event for the Craigburn community, no one forgot the reason why the students were fundraising.
When asked what the students learnt from the whole experience, Paul responded: “I think sometimes learning comes through reflection. Right there and then, you learn to make a stand for what you believe in, and not to be side-tracked by others’ opinions … Stand up for what you believe in and don’t be put off by media scrutiny. There was a lot of learning around media literacy for the kids.”
“The reward? The kids felt they made a really big difference and impact … that was always the legacy. That those kids took some action and hopefully when they become adults, they’ll be able to remember that experience and pay it forward.”
“I wonder if they have a guinness book of records for the highest amount raised in a school fundraiser?”
There’s no doubt that this event was a game-changer for One Girl. Not only did it blow Do It In A Dress out of the water, but it brought the importance of girls’ education into focus across the whole country.
If there is a Guinness World Record for school fundraisers, we think Craigburn Primary smashed it!
One Girl thanks Paul and Craigburn Primary for taking the time to chat to us and for their constant support for girls’ education.