In BGL’s 7th grade classes at Tsai Hsing School, we have been studying what it means to be a changemaker. One of the themes is that, to be a changemaker, you don’t have to be famous or do something that changes the entire world, but that the small acts you do can deeply affect a small group of people and/or make a positive impact on the earth. 

As a part of this unit of study, our students have explored the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.  After learning more about these goals, our students made inspiring films about how to be a changemaker. Check out one of our students’ films here:

Further bringing this change maker concept to life, recently we had a Field Trip Live with Robert Thornton. Robert, originally from Chico, California, now lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Teacher Courtney coordinated and facilitated this field trip.

In 2010,  Robert founded Paper Clouds Apparel. His mission is to showcase the creative talents of individuals with special needs to raise funds for special needs organizations. Robert was even featured on the NBC Today Show for his work with Paper Clouds Apparel. 

When asked what inspired him to create Paper Clouds Apparel, Robert explained that his mom, who was a bus driver for students with special needs, had a picture from one of her students that rode her bus. Every day on the bus, this girl would draw to and from school and would give the drawings to his mom. He was mesmerized by that drawing and that was the source of inspiration for founding Paper Clouds Apparel. 

Featured here is one of the artists from Paper Clouds Apparel. 

During a pre lesson, our students in 701 & 702 prepared thoughtful and questions when learning about Robert Thornton.

In response to Brian’s question about his favorite shirt design, Robert shared with our students his favorite shirt design- he showed us his tattoo of the design! Robert further explained that this design contributed to a campaign that helped a young boy named Nick who was fighting cancer. With the money from this shirt campaign from Robert’s company Paper Clouds, Nick was able to go surfing one last time before he passed away to cancer. 

Robert Thornton also founded Cloud Covered Streets in 2016. Students were fascinated to learn more about his mobile unit. Cloud Covered Streets was even featured in the local news in Phoenix, Arizona, here. Cloud Covered Streets’ mobile unit provides free showers, laundry services, haircuts, new clothing, and supplies to those dealing with homelessness or instability.

Cloud Covered Streets also employs those experiencing homelessness to help run the trailer. They are hired for a two month period and during that time, Cloud Covered Streets team works hard to help find them a full-time job and housing. They are also given supplies, such as shirts, hygiene bags, new socks, and underwear.

It touches your heart to see how Robert Thornton is helping so many people. Our students were grateful for such an engaging and informative Field Trip Live. What a great way to see how anyone can make a difference! As Gandhi said, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” Robert Thornton provides a great example of how to make positive change in the world. He shows up with perseverance, compassion, empathy, and has a huge heart. Thank you for inspiring us all!