As St. Michael-Albertville High School students slip into their summer vacation days, freshman Kyla Schnell, 15, will be headed to Africa on a mission to spread the joys of music.
“It’s an opportunity that is just something that’s so exciting,” Kyla, who leaves Thursday, May 28 for the new adventure, said. “My mom and I have never even been out of the country. To have an adventure like this together is just going to be fantastic.”
Kyla and her mother, Shelley, hail from Albertville and were introduced to Ghana by Shelley’s friend, who works with an organization dubbed Adanu.
According to its website, “Adanu is a Ghanaian-led non-profit that takes a unique approach to community development—one based on empowerment instead of charity. Adanu works alongside rural, underdeveloped Ghanaian communities to create and establish sustainable solutions for education, and equal opportunities for all people regardless of gender, age or economic status. Richard Yinkah founded DIVOG (Disaster Volunteers of Ghana) in 1997. The organization has since served over 50 communities and hosted over 1,000 international volunteers throughout the Volta region of Ghana, building schools, sanitation facilities, health care clinics and more.”
“Her experience,” Shelley said of the family friend “was to help on a project that built a local library for one of the villages. We had the desire to really volunteer this summer instead of just vacation, and this is it where it led us.”
To prep for the trip, Kyla has been raising funds to collect recorders, those flute-like instruments that drive parents of third and fourth-graders here in STMA absolutely crazy (with joy?) each school year. She teamed with Coborns in Albertville, as well as Flying Circus Toys (of the Albertville outlets) and the Kaleidoscope Charter School to collect funds, while Middle School West and East here in STMA also chipped in.
Schmitt Music donated recorders as well, while Flying Circus chipped in chalk, jump ropes and other popular recess toys.
“Every kid in Minnesota gets that experience, and for them it’s really fun,” Kyla said. “It’s the first instrument a lot of people play. To get to share that with children in Ghana is really cool for me. I’m so pumped to spread that joy of music to them.”
“In a way, it’s sharing our Minnesota culture, as we get the opportunity to learn about theirs,” Shelly said.
STMA Soccer, through its new charitable program, is giving a bag of soccer balls to give to children at the school Kyla will work in, too.
Keep Tabs on Kyla
Due to the volatility of living in Africa, the ladies will live in a nearby village with a hotel and some amenities, though they doubt things like “Wifi” and cell phone towers will be among them. Nonetheless, Kyla hopes to update her blog – Going, Going Ghana – as often as she can after she’s out on location for more than two weeks. She said updates should start coming in by June 7.
If you’re interested in donating to the cause, Kyla has established a GOFundMe page as well, and the family will be hosting a garage sale during Albertville Friendly City Days, shortly after Kyla and Shelley return.