While many Badgers visited family and friends across Ontario and beyond during reading week, others may have flown off to a tropical paradise. For those who stayed in St. Catharines, Brock Student Life and Community Experience offered an alternative reading week program.
By connecting students with local organizations, the program allowed participants to gain valuable hands-on experience and foster relationships with other students and local organizations. This year, the program worked with Happy Rolph’s Animal Farm, Loyalist Retirement Home and Christian Horizons — Port Colborne, and provided transportation between Brock and each community partner.
The organizations each offered different forms of hands-on volunteer work. Happy Rolph’s Animal Farm gave volunteers the opportunity to become acquainted with various animals in a natural setting. Additionally, students were able to volunteer in a variety of roles such as painting faces, distributing pumpkins, and managing trash and recycling, which allowed them to explore new skills or improve existing ones. Volunteering at Loyalist Retirement Home allowed a personal and unique interaction between the youth and elderly members of the community. Within Christian Horizons, students were able to contribute to spreading the message of community equality and belonging in a faith-based way. The diversity in programs meant students could volunteer with an organization and in a role well-suited to their skills and interests.
Prakisha Pradhan has worked as the Community Outreach and Volunteer Assistant at Student Life and Community Experience with Brock for a year and a half. Pradhan said the program helped students gain “a deepening sense of community, collaborative group work, positive social engagement and explored individual perspectives.” According to Pradhan, the number of students who came out to the program far exceeded the coordinator’s expectations based on previous years.
“Brock students are very keen on giving back to the community,” explained Pradhan. “The organizations have had positive feedback with regards to Brock’s contribution, specially Brock students.”
The week-long program sparked a flame in those eager to contribute to the community. After participating there were many students who attended on their own time and hope to become long-term volunteers.
“We have had a number of students return to the organizations they had once volunteered [at] and become long-term volunteers,” said Pradhan.
The coordinators of the program plan to organize a similar event to take place over February reading week. The program will take place both internationally and locally, with the local events still undecided. The international events include volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in South Carolina and an Education and Health Mission in Peru with Solidarity Experiences Abroad.
The coordinators spoke optimistically about the planned events for the upcoming reading week in February, particularly given the success of last week’s volunteering activities.
If the alternative reading week program interests you, access further information online via ExperienceBU.