Brock students give back to community during Reading Week

Brock student Peng (Jason) Xin spent his reading week helping Habitat for Humanity in Niagara.

Brock student Peng (Jason) Xin spent his reading week helping Habitat for Humanity in Niagara.

Not all Brock University students spent Reading Week on a beach, soaking up the sun.

Some 50 Brock students participated each day in Alternative Reading Week – Niagara, which had some sticking around close to home or volunteering abroad in South Carolina, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador.

Alternative Reading Week – Niagara is the local component of the overarching Alternative Reading Week program. It’s run by Student Life and Community Experience and volunteer projects took place at a variety of service agencies and organizations in Niagara and internationally, said Sandy Howe, Brock’s service learning co-ordinator.

“The goal of Alternative Reading Week was to provide an opportunity for Brock students to give back to their community and make a difference,” Howe said.

The students were involved in everything from cleaning and organizing at the Alzheimer Society of Niagara and cataloguing historical items at Morningstar Mill to creating unique home renovation items and putting together donated items at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Some painted rooms at the Beamsville branch of Community Living while others created activities for the Learning Disabilities Association of Niagara to use in their programming.

The students are from all academic programs, including graduate and undergraduate students.

Howe outlined what the University hopes students gain from the week’s experience:

• Be able to identify at least one issue facing the community they volunteer in and gain understanding of the issue
• Develop new connections with fellow students, staff and/or community partners
• Learn about their own skills, strengths and weaknesses through working with others
• Develop critical thinking skills through self and group reflection
• Be able to identify and pursue involvement opportunities in the Niagara community.

A celebratory dinner and reflection session was held at the end of the week for students to discuss the highlights of volunteering locally and what they learned from the experience.

Students who worked internationally will gather Saturday, March 2. Their trips took them to South Carolina to do a build with Habitat for Humanity, the Dominican Republic to teach English and work in a community in need, and El Salvador to work with Habitat for Humanity.

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