Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Students Create Free Trade Outlet Sewickley Shop Sells Work from Developing Nations

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Students Create Free Trade Outlet Sewickley Shop Sells Work from Developing Nations

Article excerpt

Nestled in the Sewickley Village shopping district is a market operated by a group of middle school students from Monesssori Children's Community in Sewickley.

The market primarily sells Fair Trade goods, created by craftsmen and women in developing countries such as Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Guatemala. This is the second year for the Broad Street store, Reaching for the Clouds. The students are raising money for a sixth- grade community service trip to Costa Rica next year.

"It's really fun. I love working in the store," said Isabella Stripay, a fifth-grader who says she hopes to be able to go to Costa Rica.

School Head Terri Modic said the idea of operating a store developed because Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori method of education, believed children need to learn to run a business. It has a lot to do with children learning to be adults, Ms. Modic said.

Last year, when the students traveled to Costa Rica, they donated $1,000 worth of fruit trees to schools and farms and helped to create jewelry pieces with craftswomen in the Women of the Cloud Forest organization.

Women of the Cloud Forest is Spanish teacher Amy Sobkowiak's Fair Trade project. Founded in 2001 with the mission to offer "training and employment opportunities to under served women," the organization also helps to provide materials to the craftswomen. The materials are used to make necklaces, bracelets, embroidered dresses, and other items.

"It's all about giving back," said Susan Gaudio, parent of a Montessori Children's Community seventh-grader who went on the trip to Costa Rica last year. "It was an amazing experience," she added. "He came back a different kid."

The store is bursting with colorful handmade jewelry, ornaments, toys, clothing, and more. There are patterned royal and cobalt blue paper mache bowls from Haiti and Wild Woolys birdhouses that look like different animals, depending on which side is facing out. …

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