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Photo: Red Ribbon Place. Photo by Miranda Burski.


by Miranda Burski

For many university students, Reading Week is a chance to get away from classes and relax. This year, however, 30 University of Regina students will be using their break to help the community while earning credits for their classes.

Arts CARES, piloted by the Faculty of Arts Community Research Unit, gives students the opportunity to volunteer at several Regina organizations.

Yolanda Hansen, coordinator of the event, said this allows participants to expand on what they have been learning and “experience something that is directly related to their classes.”

During the Reading Week, students will spend their mornings at one of seven  organizations: AIDS Program of South Saskatchewan, Four Directions Community Health Centre, Planned Parenthood, Regina and District Food Bank, Regina Education and Action on Child Hunger, Saskatchewan Association for Rural Municipalities, and the Regina Open Door Society.

This year, five U of R classes will be involved with the Arts CARES program. Interdisciplinary Studies 101, Women’s Studies 301, Human Justice 355, Political Science 361, and Geography 491AF will all be offering students the chance to include Arts CARES as part of their usual assignments.

Bryan Hillis, professor of Interdisciplinary Studies 101, explained that his class already has a community service requirement, and that taking part in Arts CARES simply alters the assignment slightly.

“The whole point of the class is to get us to think about being citizens of the world … we need to be aware that we have global citizenship issues within our community,” said Hillis. “I’m very optimistic that this is going to work out very well.”

While most of the students participating in the program will be earning some form of class credit, there are others who do not have this choice. But Hansen explained that the Arts CARES project is important for these students, too, regardless of the classes they are taking.

“We’re all learners and teachers during the week. All of us will come on a more or less equal basis,” she said.

While the students do get to choose their top three business preferences, Hansen said that the final decision of where they go is based on other factors, as well. These include what classes they are enrolled in and the number of volunteers each business is accepting.

Each of the organizations will be providing the students with different volunteer opportunities. At the Four Directions Community Health Centre, for example, students will be helping out with the Living in Balance program. Living in Balance encourages people to make healthier lifestyle choices, in the hopes of preventing chronic conditions.

During their time at the Four Directions Health Centre, the students will be helping to develop new ways of presenting the program, such as through games, content, or activities.

“We want to be able to reach into our toolbox and come up with … a different angle, or a different activity,” said Lisa Workman, aboriginal community development coordinator at the Four Directions Community Health Centre.

In the afternoons, students will be attending workshops put on by the Arts CARES coordinators. Each of these workshops will be based on a theme, such as Volunteering and Service. There are many speakers lined up for the workshops, including U of R president Vianne Timmons.

Hansen plans to keep Arts CARES going in future years, and said that she hopes to expand it to include other areas of study, as well.

“There have been expressions of interest from people in other faculties,” she said. “I can definitely see it applying to other faculties.”

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