By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Five eighth-graders from St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School took first place in a contest designed to increase awareness about poverty in the United States and its causes.
Maddie Hopkins, Bailey Brown, Josie Ontiveros, Lauren Bergert and Lydia Trimble created the award-winning movie trailer titled “Poverty Hurts” for the 2014 CCHD Multimedia Youth Contest. Bishop Martin Amos presented them with a $150 monetary award during the April 14 ceremony at diocesan headquarters in Davenport. Second- and third-place groups, also from St. Paul the Apostle, received monetary awards as well.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) sponsors the annual contest to engage Catholic youths in grades seven through 12 learning about the causes of poverty, Catholic social teaching and CCHD.
This year, for the first time, the Diocese of Davenport’s Social Action Department organized and promoted the contest to encourage diocesan youths’ participation. “We thought it would be a good way to teach young people the message of CCHD,” said Loxi Hopkins, the diocese’s CCHD coordinator.
“The Diocese of Davenport has a strong history of social justice teaching and action,” explained Kent Ferris, diocesan director of Social Action and of Catholic Charities. “Many years ago, Msgr. Marvin Mottet gave us the gift of The Two Feet of Social Justice as a model to help understand how charity and justice are linked.” Ferris noted that the U.S. bishops incorporated Msgr. Mottet’s idea about balancing charity and social action with writings from Pope Benedict XVI to create the Two Feet of Love in Action.
Msgr. Mottet, who led CCHD in the late 1970s to early 1980s, spoke at the awards ceremony about how he came up with the idea for The Two Feet of Social Justice. Walking slowly to the podium, he quipped, “My two feet are getting weaker and weaker!”
Both classes of St. Paul the Apostle eighth-graders attended the ceremony and viewed the winning entries. Five groups from the school qualified for the competition; three of them earned first-, second- or third-place honors. While the first-place group received $150, the second-place group received $75 and the third-place group received $50.
“This is a happy day. We have money in our pocket to do something good,” said Lynn Leming, a St. Paul the Apostle teacher who engages her students in social action. Through her efforts they work with children at Project Renewal, help out at Café on Vine and collect food for River Bend Foodbank, among other activities.
The students’ social action efforts and research on poverty led them to ask how they could fix the problem and advocate for change, Leming said.
The five girls with the winning movie trailer wrote in their entry form: “We are mostly giving a message about kids in poverty and how it affects them not just at home but at school, too. We showed how kids get bullied for not having certain clothes or not being ‘cool.’ We also showed how you could help someone in poverty. We created it off iMovie and our message is to not judge someone or treat them disrespectfully because you don’t know what they’re going through.”
A video “newscast” on poverty took second place while a PowerPoint on “Poverty in the USA” took third.
“The judges were really, really impressed with the entries and all of the imagination the entrants showed,” Loxi Hopkins said. “What the judges really liked about the first-place entry is that the girls showed themselves in solidarity with the girl in poverty. They befriended her and her family, and the family was able to lift itself out of poverty.”
This year’s winning entry has been submitted for national competition. To view the award ceremony and top three entries, visit The Catholic Messenger video page or the Diocese of Davenport’s YouTube page.