Lauren Smith takes passion for education to Kenyan children

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Taking education to new countries

MOUNT WASHINGTON--Some may say molding young minds is the key to a civilization's future. Bullitt East graduate Lauren Smith is hoping to expand on that idea with her organization Pink Elephant.

In March her and her partner, Roya Headley, will launch education and mentoring programs in Kenya at three schools and an orphanage.

Last spring the pair traveled to Africa with the Univeristy of Louisville doing a service learning project. They each saw a need for both of the programs they will begin there.

Smith worked in some of the schools as part of a public health group to promote self esteem and happiness.

"I am still in correspondence with some of the kids in Botswana," said the junior at UofL. "There is a huge need for children to have a mentor to guide them."

There are about 32 million street children in Africa. Smith said many come from outlying villages in Kenya, some have parents that had died and others have family but they can't afford to take care of them so they have to go to orphanages.

"The goal is to be able to get them to where they can take care of themselves and one day help their families," she said.

Using a video chat format, Smith and her team plan to partner each child with a mentor to talk to them about their dreams and encourage them.

"It's kind of like Big Brothers Big Sisters except on a much larger scale," she said.

In case of a language barrier, Smith said there will be a section available for instant messaging.

They are currently working on putting together bios about the children. The organization is still looking for mentors to apply.

She also said the schools were lacking basic resources and materials. The group will be working with a primary school, a village school and a school for the disabled.

"A place to go to collaborate with other teachers didn't exist," Smith said.

The education program will give the teachers who have little resources a chance to access resources from around the world.

In order for this to work, Smith said she is need of teachers to upload their lesson plans to the site. The elementary education major said all they would have to do is login to the sit and upload the lesson plans.

"The goal is to find lessons and resources that require more ideas‚ we are looking for people to come forward to add to that," she said.

If they are able to get those children these tools, with a good education and guide to help them, Smith said she thinks it will have a positive impact on their lives.

"Then the potential is endless for them," she said.

The organization is still in need of some help before their launch.

They are looking to obtain two laptops and a desktop computer for two schools and the orphanage. If you can help with donations please contact Smith at lauren@pinkelephanthelps.org.

To learn more about Pink Elephant you can visit their website at www.pinkelephanthelps.org or their Facebook page at Pink Elephant Helps.