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Every child has a story

Geraldine Mukumbi | Monday, November 19, 2012

The belief in the power of commerce is the driving force behind the activities of the Student International Business Council (SIBC). One of the five divisions of the SIBC, Global Development, has projects that are geared toward the developmental aspect of business.

One of these projects is the Robinson Community Learning Center (RCLC) marketing group. They believe that while there is a tendency to link global development with some foreign, faraway place, it actually begins with the local community. They established an initiative in partnership with an organization very close to the Notre Dame campus, the Robinson Community Learning Center (RCLC).

The RCLC is a partnership between the residents of the South Bend northeast neighborhood and the University of Notre Dame. It was started in 2001 in a bid to foster a relationship between the residents of South Bend and the University. The center provides literacy programs, skills training and adult programs for the community with the assistance of volunteers, some of whom are Notre Dame students.

Senior Ming Archbold, the current project leader of the RCLC Marketing group, started this initiative during his sophomore year in 2010. He was inspired by the need to collect and share stories from young children in the local community.

With a team of Notre Dame students and the help of members of the RCLC staff such as Velshonna Luckey, this group facilitated the creation of stories by a group of children aged 7-11. The group of 20 students created an environment where the children learned to voice their thoughts and work in teams. The process was not without tears, however, as each child wanted to be the leader and have his/her own ideas and illustrations included in the final draft.

This semester, the RCLC marketing group focused on an aspect that challenged their creativity. The current team, with members from as close as South Bend and as far as Zimbabwe, worked together in a bid to edit the stories while maintaining the integrity of the children’s ideas and staying true to their voices.

The hard work has paid off in that what started out as an idea has grown to become a children’s book entitled “Every Child Has A Story.” This book is in the process of being published though CreateSpace, Amazon’s online publishing platform.

This achievement marks the beginning of the next phase of the project. In the coming weeks, the book will become available to the public in digital and print form and the team will start executing its marketing strategy. The goal is to promote the book and ultimately increase its profitability.
What distinguishes “Every Child Has A Story” from other children’s books is that it is perfectly imperfect. It was crafted and illustrated by young minds that refuse to conform to the rules of what a typical children’s book should look like.

The project itself is ambitious and innovative, merging two seemingly unrelated concepts: Marketing and literature. This creates an environment where creativity is essential and the challenges are numerous, but learning and growth is inevitable.

When “Every Child Has A Story” makes it to the shelves of bookstores and becomes available to Notre Dame and the South Bend community as a whole, I encourage you to buy it for a young loved one. It contains perspectives on life masquerading as stories about heroes, homework and Notre Dame football.

Buy it for yourself as a reminder that even in this cutthroat world of business, commercial models can be used for good – all proceeds from the sale of the book will go directly to the Robinson Community Learning Center.

Geraldine Mukumbi can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.