Toast to Service Learning, campus outreach

By on April 19, 2011
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Amber Ritchie; ambermr@uab.edu, Contributor

UAB’s Service Learning luncheon inspired students to improve their communities through experience and courses that are focused on volunteering for educational credit.

This meeting was held in order to integrate the ideas of representatives from different service organizations.

The main topic of discussion was to present current initiatives that would inspire college students to further enhance the city of Birmingham.

The speakers focused on presenting new volunteer opportunities to engage college students through raising awareness.

Norma-May Isakow, the director of UAB Office for Service Learning, stated that the Service Learning program abides by UAB’s vision as a “civically engaged campus that, according to President Dr. Carol Garrison, is intently focused on offering students a wide array of learning opportunities both in and out of the classroom”

Service learning goes along with UAB’s first goal in its Vision for the 21st Century to “provide a student-centered, collaborative, learning experience to prepare diverse students for rewarding careers and lives that benefit society and our regional and global economy.”

One of the speakers at the luncheon, Jerri Haslem, is involved in the Community Health Initiatives department of the YMCA.

She is currently working to establish eight walking routes within Birmingham communities.

Kaylyn, another student, added that UAB could easily become involved in walking together “because our student body is so community-minded.”

Amanda Storey, the Vice President of Community Health and Wellness at United Way of Central Alabama, Inc., is also known as the Project Director of a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation called Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities.

HKHC is a non-profit organization whose goal is to promote healthy lifestyles in children.

Storey has received a grant of thirteen million dollars to fund community efforts to create access points to physical activity and healthier food choices.

Justin Hunter, a student, noted that college students need to see these efforts as a priority by advocating the benefits of volunteer work.

HKHC is currently in the Homewood, West End, and East Lake communities of Birmingham to launch the Safe Routes to School project.

This program encourages children to walk to school by improving on the safety in the neighborhoods.

The program needs college students to lead the “Walking School Bus” once a week. This program will also teach students the value of building a safe environment for young children.

Executive Director of the Freshwater Land Trust, Wendy Jackson, is associated with Health Action Partnership to create “Our One Mile” in Jefferson County.

This project focuses on creating public greenways and connecting them to other parks.

When greenways are located within a convenient distance, residents are fifty percent more likely to engage in physical activity and property values can also increase.

Jackson had also worked with scientists of UAB to survey properties and gather data on how to restore the area.

The Director of UAB Career Services, Suzanne Scott-Trammel, spoke about “Making the Most of Your Service Learning Profile” by using experience on a professional resume.

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