Unique Service OpportunitySpringville Jr. High School students aren’t typically excited about going to school, but a service learning project held at the school, may have at least given them a different perspective about education. Over the past few weeks, Brooklyn Howell, a student in the Service Learning class, has led her classmates in a Yuda Band project to raise money for Guatemalan youth.

Yuda Bands are stylish handmade leather and coconut bracelets imported from Guatemala and turned into a humanitarian project by a locally operated non-profit organization called YUDA Foundation. The name YUDA is derived from AYUDA, the Spanish word for help.

Profit from the sale of the popular bracelets is used to build scholarship funds that will educate youth in Guatemala and help break the poverty cycle. In some cases, graduating from high school can mean as much as a 600% increase in earning potential for a Guatemalan youth.

“The amazing thing about YUDA Band Projects,” said Brent Whiting, founder of YUDA foundation, “is that youth are helping youth – and they’re seeing they have the power to affect lives in a positive way. They love the bracelets and think they’re stylish, but the fact that something as simple as buying one will make a difference is also very appealing to youth.”

Kathryn Crandall, who teaches the service learning class, thought the YUDA Band project was a great experience for everyone involved. “Everything about it worked really well,” she commented, “from the assembly where they learned about Guatemala and how important education is, to the awesome bracelets. The students really loved all aspects of the project.”

Brooklyn Howell, the project’s student leader agreed, “Everybody loved the bracelets so much and would even stand in line during lunch to buy one. But the cool thing is we’re actually helping kids get an education and change their lives.”

Through the YUDA Foundation website, Brooklyn was able to personally select the five Guatemalan youth who would benefit from the money raised during her project, and read about their lives. Upon graduation, most of those sponsored will in turn pay for their younger siblings to attend school and help their parents financially, making the results of the Jr. High Student’s YUDA Band project almost immeasurable.

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