CHAMPS stands for Children Against Mines Program and is a signature educational program of the Marshall Legacy Institute. JonPaul Marschall joined the CHAMPS club when he was in second grade and learned about the humanitarian impact of landmines on communities around the world. As part of the CHAMPS club, students have the opportunity to connect with youth from mine impacted countries. Participation in these monthly virtual exchange calls is optional, and JonPaul chose to engage with youth from Bosnia during each monthly call. JonPaul and his fellow CHAMPS members learned and shared cultural information with a focus on similarities and differences, realized how people in Bosnia were and continue to be impacted by landmines, heard inspirational stories from landmine survivors, and collaborated on ways to make a positive impact in raising awareness to the landmine issue.
When I was in fifth grade, I met a landmine survivor from Yemen who picked up a landmine as a child. Her story and the compassion, gratitude, and love flowing from her inspired me to start my campaign. - JonPaul Marschall
The CHAMPS club also held fundraisers to sponsor a mine detection dog and to support landmine survivors. JonPaul was engaged with every fundraiser and often recruited the support of his family for the larger events. Even when JonPaul moved to the middle school and high school, he continued to be active with CHAMPS. The high school offers a service program award that helps one young person per year to make a positive impact in the world. JonPaul was a recipient of that award and worked through his high school career to raise enough funds to support a landmine survivor. He accomplished his goal by working with the school to host a variety of fundraisers including bake sales and “tag days” as well as speaking to outside organizations such as local Rotary Clubs.
My family supported me along the way through each fundraiser. My school, Glenelg Country School, supported me in providing the ability to fundraise, as well as my friends who helped me sell fundraiser items. I was able to begin my campaign after taking part in the Ashai Changemaker Competition in Junior year and by receiving the generous donation of $250 from the Ashai family. The Ashai family made it possible for me to initiate my campaign. - JonPaul Marschall
In October of 2023, The Marshall Legacy Institute visited Glenelg Country School with MLI’s Survivor of the Year, Dog and Handler Team of the Year, and dignitaries from Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. JonPaul was honored at the presentation for his amazing accomplishment of successfully raising $2,500, enough for a young woman named Marija in Bosnia to receive a prosthetic leg. Marija was injured by a landmine at the age of 4 years old. Although the doctors thought she would be okay, Marija's leg had to be amputated due to infection at the age of 5. Through JonPaul’s dedication, he changed the life of this young woman, allowing her to lead a more normal life by getting a good job and growing a family. Marija received a full above-knee prosthesis at the age of 22 through the CHAMPS MVA Bosnia Program. She has been a strong girl through the years, finishing her studies, and now with her new prosthetic is seeking employment!
CHAMPS allowed me to connect globally to other countries and gave me a broader perspective and understanding of the world. Being a member of CHAMPS also allowed me to meet inspirational people and hear stories that will forever change my life. I will continue to spread landmine awareness and the devastation that war has on communities as I move onto college. - JonPaul Marschall