School pupil challenges the Prime Minister to fix the digital divide

School pupil challenges the Prime Minister to fix the digital divide

8 March 2021

After a challenging year where everything changed and young people were forced to adapt to an entirely new way of learning, whilst losing precious contact with family and friends, you’d forgive their focus turning inward. But not for Elliott, who, at nine years old, saw a BBC news report about six children in a family trying to complete home schooling on one phone shared between them and decided that something had to be done.

“I realised there were loads of other people in the world in that situation and I wanted to do something about it in my area at least”, and, ever the embodiment of a Giraffe Girl*, she immediately masterminded a fundraising campaign involving the creation of an activity pack in return for donations towards the funding of laptops for a primary school in south east London.

Using information that she learnt in her downtime through the previous lockdowns plus a selection of topics she hoped that others would enjoy, Elliott set to work creating 40 pages of fun activities just before February half term, ready to fill the void created by lockdown, whilst helping others. In a most impressively professional manner, she set up a website, Instagram and JustGiving page, with the help of her family.

Her fundraising success was beyond anything she could have imagined. She anticipated raising £100 and then, within 3 days, she had raised over £10,000! After consulting a local primary school Head, it was decided that purchasing tablets would mean that Elliott could help more children and so the campaign turned from 24 laptops to 85 tablets. With her enviable charm and tenacity she even managed to get a discount from Lenovo to enable her to spread the donations further. The new target is 100 and we have no doubt she will reach, and surpass, that.

Throughout the interview Elliott exuded positivity and her activity book is no different – you can feel her warmth on every page, from positive quotes to listing your ‘Wow’ moments from each day. Though her own home learning has meant she hasn’t been able to read all the feedback about her activity pack, she knows it is going down well.

Elliott’s family, friends and teachers are incredibly proud, “it’s a really great feeling” she beams. Personally, her proudest moment was seeing how happy the first school (Oliver Goldsmith Primary in Peckham) was to receive their 30 tablets: “How happy they sounded when they heard that someone had done something to give them 30 tablets for their school”.

Elliott is aware that not everyone has the time to start initiatives like this but advocates doing whatever you can to make a difference – be that donating to good causes or helping an old lady cross the street. It’s about acts of kindness: “you’ll feel good because you know you’ve helped someone.”

This is not the end for our valiant fundraiser – nor was it the start, as she explains about previous, smaller fundraisers, inspired by watching her mother running marathons for charity and seeing how happy it made people: “I realised I really love helping people.”

Elliott has started school on site once more, but she is continuing to fundraise for more tablets as they will still benefit pupils as much infrastructure for learning has moved online over the past year and has another school lined up to receive the next batch.

The future contortionist shared her love of Sophie Dossi and the inspirational motto of marathon runner Dean Kanazes, “run with your heart when your legs get too tired” and mused that perhaps Boris Johnson could do some government fundraising to complement hers. If a nine year old, albeit a very proactive one, can raise over £10,000 surely he can do more to fix the digital divide!

We look forward to the next fundraiser and getting involved as a school, and perhaps the GDST as a whole. With Elliott leading the charge, it is sure to be a huge success.

*Sydenham High Prep School pupils are affectionately known as Giraffe Girls as they aim high, stick their necks out and try new things.

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