U of G students dedicate reading week to helping others
Many students spend reading week on a beach or on the slopes, but eight University of Guelph students will spend Feb. 16 to 20 supporting a downtown renovation project that will provide overnight shelter to local homeless youth.
Through Project Serve Canadian, an alternative reading week program coordinated by the university's Student Life and Career Services' citizenship education program, students will spend their mornings helping to renovate space in Norfolk United Church into a shelter.
The emergency overnight youth shelter, which will accommodate up to 16 people, is scheduled to open spring 2003 and is coordinated and funded by Change Now, Guelph's youth drop-in and resource centre, in partnership with Norfolk United Church.
Project Serve Canadian was created in 2002 in a collaborative effort between Citizenship Education Programs at U of G and the Learning Exchange of the University of British Columbia (UBC). The pairing of these programs allows student leaders from both universities to collaborate on meaningful projects within Guelph and Vancouver and participate in community workshops and experiential education.
Ten students from UBC will arrive in Guelph Feb. 16 to join U of G students in their efforts. As well as working on renovations, they will attend educational workshops presented by local non-profit organizations involved in addressing the need for emergency shelter and long-term solutions to homelessness. Students will also travel to Toronto to tour the Gateway Shelter facility and learn about the national organization, Raising the Roof.
Last year, ten U of G students travelled to Vancouver to participate with a group of UBC students in a community development project in Vancouver's downtown east side. Students discussed issues facing the downtown east side such as drug use, poverty and sub-standard housing. Every morning, the group volunteered at the Strathcona Community Gardens, expanding the composting capacity of the Gardens.
"This program allows students to provide a service to the community while they connect with peers from different Canadian communities," said Cheryl Rose, Citizenship and Leadership Education Programs co-ordinator. "It also raises awareness of local and national social issues, personal citizenship values and encourages long-term participation in steps toward critical, necessary social change."
For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.