U of T's Alternative Reading Week 2011 delivers on promise
Growing the community was the theme for Alternative Reading Week 2011 and thanks to the efforts of about 200 students, growth is evident.
The fourth annual service learning event, led by the Centre for Community Partnerships in partnership with the Learning Enrichment Foundation, offered students the opportunity to experience first-hand the importance of community service and active citizenship. They teamed up with community agencies in Toronto’s Weston Mount Dennis neighbourhoods and lent a hand with numerous projects, including indoor gardening, training young leaders and reading stories to children at area daycare centres.(View our slideshow.)
Students who volunteered for the project took part in a pre-service leadership training session and an orientation with community members before diving into their community service opportunities. Alternative Reading Week also has a reflection component, including both a group discussion and written notes.
“We’re hoping to make the learning deeper by incorporating various learning styles,” said Lisa Chambers, director of the Centre for Community Partnerships.
Chambers visited a number of the activities in which students were engaged and was delighted to see the positive impact they were making.
“I watched three students work with seniors in a knitting circle and afterward, the seniors wanted to know if the students would be back the following week,” she said. “When people experience poverty, social isolation is such a main piece of their lifestyle. Having 200 students come in is a major boost in the community.”
The students who took part were also moved by the experience.
“I saw one student working right up until the bus left on the final day,” said Chambers. “He told me, ‘I don’t want to stop now, because if I stop it will be over.’
“There is a great energy when students, community leaders and residents all putt their strengths together.”