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Honors students to make presentation March 24 about service-learning efforts

This semester’s Honors 301 Colloquium is using service-learning and $100.00 to make a change in the Bowling Green-Warren County community. Sponsored by the Rotary Foundation of Prospect/Goshen, the “$100.00 Solution” asks students to identify a social problem, study its causes, and with community leaders, determine strategies that can be employed in helping to address the issue.

The “$100.00 Solution” is being implemented for the first time this semester at WKU through the Honors Colloquium. Three groups of five students each have already united with Community Partners and are currently identifying and working on projects that meet community needs. Each group is also given $100.00 to implement these changes.

The students will make a presentation about the projects during a “Service-Learning Brown Bag Meet ‘n Greet” at 11 a.m. March 24 at the WKU ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships, 1818 U.S. 31W Bypass.

Group BtG (Bridging the Gap) is partnering with Mrs. Rebecca Perez, the Family Resource Center Coordinator for Cumberland Trace Elementary School, to reach out to three Hispanic families. They recently met with Mrs. Perez and asked her the question, “What can we do to enhance their quality of life?” The most important way they plan to help will be to assist the parents of the families in learning basic English with the hope they can use their language skills to obtain GED’s. This task will be made easier because all members of the group have some Spanish under their belts. The main goal of the project is to provide services that make a lasting impact for the families, not just a temporary fix. Besides language skills, the group would also like to provide information about funding for college. The group also intends to interact with the children, who are of various school ages, by developing a fun childcare program during the language lessons.

Another group, The Service Groupies, will work with low-income, middle school-aged children. They are partnered with Kaleidoscope, a youth development organization that meets twice a week and allows youth to express themselves artistically in a supportive setting. Rachealle Sanford, a representative of this group, says, “If we can meet the children on their own “turf,” somewhere they feel comfortable, we feel we will be able to connect with them and discover what they think we can do to help them live better, happier, more fulfilling lives.” Kaleidoscope’s Executive Director Lauren Cunningham has expressed her excitement about the collaboration and appreciates the opportunity to bridge the gap between the community and WKU through this service-learning project.

The last group, The Fab 5, is partnering with Ms. T.J. Shockley at the Housing Authority of Bowling Green. The Housing Authority has a grant-funded program called Reach Higher, which helps place clients on KTAP back into the work world while teaching them job and life skills. Ms. Shockley was in need of a parent-child activity that educated students and parents about budgeting. The discussion led to an idea based on an adult and child version of “The Game of Life.” Ms. Ashley Payne, a member of the Fab 5, says, “This is a chance to get involved in a community that we know nothing about. We are looking forward to getting out of our comfort zones and growing in our abilities to work with different people.”

WKU looks forward to expanding service-learning to all interested Departments, Colleges and community organizations and welcomes any and all input from Faculty, Staff and Students, as well as Community Partners in WKU’s service region. If you have a service-learning project idea or know of a community need that could be addressed through service-learning, contact Cheryl Kirby-Stokes, Service-Learning Coordinator at cheryl.kirby-stokes@wku.edu or at 270-782-0653.

“Service-Learning Brown Bag Meet ‘n Greet”: The WKU ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships will host a “Service-Learning Brown Bag Meet ‘n Greet” at 11 a.m. March 24 at 1818 U.S. 31W Bypass. RSVP to Cheryl Kirby-Stokes by March 23.

In addition to hearing from the Honors students, participants will learn about service-learning and network with WKU faculty/staff and local community partners for potential service-learning collaborations.

All participants will receive materials on how to pursue a successful service-learning partnership, as well as curriculum development, reflection exercises, surveys, evaluations, etc.

Contact: Cheryl Kirby-Stokes, Service-Learning Coordinator, at cheryl.kirby-stokes@wku.edu or (270) 782-0653.

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