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Abby Murphy, 12, of Oak Lawn, reading aloud, Our Table, by Peter H. Reynolds for Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School's Hershey Heartwarming Project. (Supplied photos)

Abby Murphy, 12, of Oak Lawn, reading aloud, Our Table, by Peter H. Reynolds for Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School's Hershey Heartwarming Project. (Supplied photos)

Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School shares the love

By Kelly White

Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School students shared the love in February.

The school, 5345 W. 99th St. in Oak Lawn, held a Hershey Heartwarming Project, where students used green screen technology to make videos of picture book read aloud and activities for pediatric patients at Hope Children’s Hospital.

“Reading books can take you to another part of the world,” Abby Murphy, 12, of Oak Lawn, said. “For these kids, they are stuck in the hospital, but with books, it’s like they don’t have to be. I like helping people in need, especially kids.”

Launched in 2019, the Hershey Heartwarming Project Action Grants Program supports young people who are advancing inclusion, empathy, kindness and connection in their schools and communities. Each grant given is for the amount of $250.

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Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School, 5345 W. 99th St. in Oak Lawn, held a Hershey Heartwarming Project, where students used green screen technology to make videos of picture book read aloud and activities for pediatric patients at Hope Children’s Hospital.

At Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School, there were more than 50 students from sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade that collaborated on this project.

For the project, some students were in the videos, reading the stories, while other students worked the video equipment, and others did the video editing. The students had fun working with green screen technology – green screen is a large green backdrop placed in the background of a shot to allow for digital effects later.

The entire project was student created and student led and gave students an opportunity to give back to their community and show empathy and kindness towards others, according to school officials.

“The students took this project very seriously,” Heather McCarthy, Media Specialist at OLHMS, said. “Many of them had a personal connection to the children’s hospital either from being in the hospital themselves as a child or knowing someone who has been hospitalized. They bonded over sharing stories of empathy and compassion. This project is just another example of how wonderful our OLHMS students are.”

All 13 books chosen for the project were written or illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.

“His books showcase the power of positive storytelling with an emphasis on moving the world to a better place,” McCarthy said. “The main themes of his books include empathy, patience, joy, confidence, and resilience.”

The students turned their videos into QR codes, or a barcode that contains various amounts of data. Each book had a QR code in the front cover. Patients at Advocate Children’s Hospital will then be able to scan the QR code, with a cell phone or tablet, and it will then take the child to a private video with a read aloud of the book by OLHMS students.

At the end of each book, students inserted a second QR code with an activity to follow the storyline of the book. Some of the end of book activities included: yoga, meditation, art projects, crafts, and poetry.

All of the projects were worked on during school hours, including during lunchtime and during break periods with special permission from a teacher, and were created in the Mustang Studio in the school’s library.

“We used our green screen technology to insert the pages of the books in the background of each video,” McCarthy said. “The videos then became interactive instead of your typical read aloud.”

The projects were dropped off to Advocate Children’s Hospital the week of Valentine’s Day, bringing love to those who need it most, just in time for the holiday.

reporter hershey project3 2022

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