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HKR student follows in parents' (very large) footprints

Kinesiology student Charlotte Allison in San Francisco.


By Michelle Osmond

The School of Human Kinetics and Recreation's kinesiology student Charlotte Allison is taking her education on the road. A very long road, it turns out. In mid-August, she will travel to the slums of Kolkata, India, to work with women and children.

Ms. Allison credits her parents for her sense of adventure.

"My parents definitely instilled a sense of adventure in me," she said. "We lived all over Canada, as well as in Nepal for three years, before we moved to Newfoundland in 2000. My parents did a lot of travelling before they had kids, some travelling with the four of us and have gone on some pretty amazing adventures."

Both of her parents have gone to Haiti in recent years to help out with disaster relief and both are very involved in public and global health.

Ms. Allison initially chose to visit India because a friend is currently living there, but has since decided to stay longer to create her own adventure and to give some thought as to what she'd like to do with her life.

The first organization Ms. Allison will be volunteering with is Children Resolution and Women Learning (CRAWL) Society. The organization has several different programs including non-formal education and teaching computer and self-help skills.

After a month with CRAWL, Ms. Allison plans to work with the Missionaries of Charity, an organization originally set up by Mother Theresa. According to Ms. Allison, there's a high demand for volunteers who can do physiotherapy-type work with people with severe disabilities in Kolkata.

"I'm not entirely sure why I settled on these two organizations," she said. "I've heard great things from both of them, and they're both different experiences. It's entirely possible that I'll discover other organizations that I want to be a part of and travel around the city and country a bit. I'm looking forward to being surrounded by colour, culture, tasty food and new people. Also, I'm looking forward to that feeling that you get when you feel at home in a strange place. Hopefully I'll get to that feeling!"

Ms. Allison is completing the rest of her kinesiology degree by distance from wherever her volunteering takes her.

"I'm very nervous but not at the same time. Everything is starting to feel very real all of a sudden. It's finally happening."

Ms. Allison's father is Dr. David Allison, chief medical officer of health for the Eastern Regional Health Authority as well as a clinical associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine's Division of Community Health and Humanities. Her mother is Dr. Jill Allison, a graduate of Memorial's anthropology graduate school, and is the global health co-ordinator at Memorial.

"My parents have taught me that any goal is attainable, at any age and that it doesn't take a superhero to make a difference in someone's life."