By: Mary Ellen Trent
As a sixth grade student, Thomas had already worked as a junior counselor in the Stratford Friends summer program. He played the cello and started learning the didgeridoo, sang for three years with the Valley Forge Men and Boys Choir (where he convinced the group to dedicate a performance to raise money both for gardening tools for a township in South Africa and encyclopedias for children in the Pacific Islands of Vanuatu), and traveled with Sir Ben Kingsley to New Mexico to meet the Spiritual Elders of the Navajo. He enjoyed sailing, skiing and rock climbing. In eighth grade he became a lifeguard at the Upper Main Line YMCA where he continues to work 8 – 10 hours weekly.
It will be no surprise to the reader to learn what Thomas has accomplished five years later.
Thomas’ father, David, works internationally as an environmental advisor and has brought his remarkable son on overseas trips for years. In 2008, they traveled to India, a first for Thomas. He learned that in rural areas of India the literacy rate is often no higher than twenty percent and most girls do not attend school after the elementary grades.
Upon his return, with the support of his family and his schools, Thomas founded the non-profit “Access to Education.” It raises funds to purchase bicycles for children (mostly girls) in rural Rajasthan and Bihar who are classified as Untouchables in their culture. They may be orphans and/or refugees from slavery or work camps. These bicycles make it possible for the children to attend school, which can be located more than 20 miles from their homes.
To date, “Access to Education” has raised money for more than 400 bicycles. The bicycles are built in India and are able to withstand the forest terrain. Each bike comes with a repair kit. Thomas and David travel to India twice a year to distribute the bicycles and meet with the local children. As a result of his global service, DVFS initiated a service trip to India scheduled for Spring 2014. Thomas is assisting the school’s “Adventure Based Learning Experience” coordinator in the logistics.
(The reader may visit http://triskeles.org/donate-now to read about “Access to Education” – or make a donation!)
In April 2013, United Nations employees suggested that BBC documentarians Anna Bressanin and Ilya Shnitser highlight Thomas and “Access to Education” in one of their mini-documentaries. Please visit http://bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22115506 to view the film. Or, simply google “Thomas Hircock” to find multiple web pages highlighting this documentary.
Thomas’ commitment to service is demonstrated locally, as well.
Dyslexia runs in David’s family. Their struggles have moved Thomas to help suburban Philadelphia children living with dyslexia through the national Eye to Eye organization. Eye to Eye, founded by Jonathan Mooney, is a program where high school or college students with LD mentor elementary aged students living with learning disabilities or ADHD. Thomas is the chapter coordinator for the Delaware Valley Friends School chapter.
Besides Eye to Eye, Thomas inspires family, faculty and friends through his medical work as an EMT. He took the initiative to study and train to be an EMT at 16. While many of his peers hold afterschool jobs at restaurants or stores, Thomas’ afterschool responsibilities involve saving lives. He balances evening and weekend EMT shifts with homework, school commitments, lifeguarding and his non-profit work.
In order to further his passion for EMT/nursing, Thomas has enrolled in an Allied Health Science and Technology program with a local hospital. This dual enrollment program will take up half of his senior year school day. He will spend his mornings at the hospital and afternoons at DVFS. This fall Thomas plans to apply to university nursing programs.
Thomas has just completed his open water scuba certification and will next take the courses for scuba rescue certification. In August 2013 he will take a course to obtain his Wilderness EMT certification…
Do not miss the General Session on Thursday, November 7, 2013, at 8:30 a.m., when Thomas will be presented with his well-deserved Remy Johnston Certificate of Merit Award!
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