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Record number of students volunteer during midterm

By Jeff Green

More than 130 students traded in a few free hours during this week’s midterm break for some community service, helping put smiles on seniors and others in long-term care facilities in the capital city.

The students are all volunteers with the award-winning program Make Midterm Matter which aims to engage Memorial students in the wider community.

The program was created by Kim Kelly, experiential learning co-ordinator with Student Affairs and Services. It was launched in the winter of 2006 and has expanded each semester with the largest number of applicants taking part this week.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, students visited long-term homes such as Masonic Park, the Agnes Pratt Home and the Holyes-Escasoni Complex.

They also visited the Salvation Army Wiseman Centre.

Ms. Kelly said she’s encouraged so many students – from a variety of disciplines – eager to give up their midterm to help make a difference in the lives of others.

“These students give up a day of their precious free time to really make their midterm matter, to do something for their community,” she said. “For some students, our program enables them to apply classroom theory to the real world while other students may simply want to do something a little different or to discover additional ways of being involved at university and in the community.”

Prior to visiting the facilities, the students will heard from a Memorial employee who talked to them about community service.

During Tuesday’s session, Dr. Wade Locke presented practical tips on how students can mobilize knowledge to influence policy. Dr. Locke is the 2008 winner of the President’s Award for Exemplary Community Service and he shared his journey to inspire the students to continue their service to their community.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday Dr. Angela Loucks-Atkinson from the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, led students through a community development exercise that will enable them apply this and other community service experience to their careers.

Ms. Kelly said she credits the success of the Make Midterm Matter program to strong partnerships from across the university and from the community.

She said science student Rachel Gardiner, the student co-ordinator of the program, as well as staff from Career Development Experimental Learning and other units as well as Eastern Health, were instrumental in getting the program off the ground and helping it grow.

“This year we are also excited that male and female athletes from the Sea-Hawks swim team and women’s basketball team took part,” Ms. Kelly added.

Last year, the program received the Atlantic Association of College and University Student Services’ award for excellence in student services.

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