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Social work students inspired to create awareness after Igor

(L-R) Dr. Delores Mullings, Kaitlin Shannahan, Jasmine Furlong and His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada.


By Brad Norman

This September marks the first anniversary since Hurricane Igor hit Newfoundland. While the province recovered from its worst storm on record, one of Memorial's School of Social Work classes considered ways to help out. Led by Dr. Delores Mullings, a group of 21 social work students carried out two projects that raised more than $2,400 to support the relief efforts of the Canadian Red Cross.

Dr. Mullings believes it is important for students to get involved when a disaster occurs.

"I thought as a group of social workers we need to do something. So as part of my social justice course, I created a mid-term assignment to look at projects that would elevate my students' consciousness to the devastation of a natural disaster such as this. I wanted them to think about people who perhaps were already disadvantaged and how they may be further disadvantaged by Hurricane Igor," she said.

One of the projects involved 10 of the students working together to produce a DVD showing the devastation caused by the hurricane. The students made connections with local musicians -- including Kilkenney Krew, The Navigators, Ron and Sheilagh Harvey and Emerald's Fleet -- who provided music for the DVD, while photographers A.J. Smith, Bud Vincent, and Sandra Lee supplied photographs to be used in the video.

They also received contributions from Memorial University's Student Innovation Fund, Shoppers Drug Mart and Terra Nova Overhead Doors, while Staples donated the supplies needed for producing the DVDs.

Once the DVDs were complete, they were sold through Bidgood's and Coleman's grocery stores.

"The DVDs were very well received," Dr. Mullings said.

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, visited Memorial in June and attended an Innovation Celebration, which highlighted innovative student initiatives. The Igor DVD project was the only academic project chosen. The social work students were specially invited to the celebration where a few of them had the opportunity to discuss their project with Governor General Johnston.

In addition to the DVD project, 11 of the students organized a garage sale which raised $552. Once again, the event was orchestrated almost entirely by the students, who worked tirelessly to collect items and promote the sale in a relatively short period of time.

"They worked really hard," Dr. Mullings said of her students. "Because it was a mid-term assignment, they had to finish before end of term."

Dr. Mullings believes in hands-on learning and encourages her students to be proactive in the community.

"Education is not a spectator sport. These students really rose to the occasion and did a great job of creating awareness of a very large community need in the wake of a horrible event."