Maggie Culp and Haiden Fender have learned a thing or two about leadership and the importance of helping others, through their National Programs in Action project for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. The two Maumelle Middle School students are raising awareness about the Waner Children’s Vascular Anomaly Foundation, a project they call “Waner Works.”
The pair created a PowerPoint presentation and speaks to groups, like the Maumelle High School child development class, Kiwanis Club and Rotary Club. This is Fender’s favorite part of the project, and she says she has learned a lot from the experience.
“It feels good to inform,” Fender, an eighth-grader, says. “When you’re the one doing the teaching, it gives you a different perspective. You understand what your teachers are doing with you. I think it’s cool to learn to talk to anyone of a different age group.”
Culp, who is in seventh grade, agrees: “We’re reaching them as middle-schoolers, and they’re 40-year-old adults.”
The two are also raising money to help fund surgery for a 3-year-old Little Rock girl, named Maria Young. Culp says they have set up “penny jars” in seven Maumelle restaurants and hope to reach their $2,000 goal by March.
“It’s something not a lot of people know about,” Culp says, explaining why they chose to focus on the Waner Foundation for their project. Culp’s mom, Betsy, is the organization’s director of operations.
Culp, 13, says middle-schoolers can make “as much of an impact” as adults. Fender, 14, says, “If we’re not involved with the community, we won’t have a say.” The project has taught Culp and Fender valuable lessons in teamwork, leadership and multitasking.
Both are on their school’s basketball team and work hard to keep their grades up. They meet several times a week to help each other with homework, practice basketball and work on their project. Finding a good balance is what keeps them going.
“You have to be dedicated,” Culp says. “It helps to have a partner to work off of. It’s my life and her life, on top of school and sports. I think we’re doing a good job juggling it all.”
“Instead of thinking it’s all about you, you have to think of someone else’s time,” Fender says.
Both Culp and Fender say helping others has helped them realize how fortunate they are. They plan to continue community service throughout their lives and have careers dedicated to helping others. Culp says she wants to one-day work in cancer research. Fender says her brother has autism, and she plans to be an occupational therapist to help others like him.
The Waner Children’s Vascular Anomaly Foundation provides financial assistance to families affected by vascular anomalies and funds research and educational programs about the condition. Vascular anomalies affect about one in 10 kids nationally, says Betsy Culp, director of operations. There are no statistics available for Arkansas. The foundation will host a mother-daughter tea party on Feb. 9 at the Country Club of Little Rock from 10:30 a.m. to noon. For more information about this event or the foundation, visit www.wanerkids.org.