There are many ways to make a difference
Seven teams of students celebrating seven successful community projects – this is the culmination of the four-month Service Learning course in the Community Family and Child Studies (CFCS) program. As the winter semester comes to a close, the class gathered for a series of presentations that showcased how each team connected with community.
Each student team was given the freedom to make their own choice about who to work with and what they could do to help. In the end, no two projects were alike, and the seven projects benefited people from all walks of life and all ages.
The projects were also very rewarding for the students, and each team reported on what they personally learned through this community work. Myths were debunked, creativity blossomed, self-confidence grew and the seeds of life-long friendships were planted. As one student said, “I no longer think of my team as classmates – they’re my friends.”
The Service Learning projects included:
Cridge Centre Young Parents Outreach program
The students created a spa day for young moms, which included a date with a hair stylist and a professional photoshoot for portraits with their families. Each family also received a gift bag and shared in some refreshments.
Silver Threads Community Centre
The students sold doughnuts to raise enough money to donate a new computer tablet, desk and chair, and then provided a computer training session to the seniors who visit the centre.
Prostitutes Empowerment Education Resource Society (PEERS)
This group collaborated with volunteers and staff of PEERS to remodel their donation room and refurbish some of the agency’s common spaces.
Tsawout First Nations community
These students had a chance to learn about First Nations tradition when they organized a traditional pit cook of salmon and vegetables. They also helped restore an important area by pulling out a large patch of highly invasive broom and cleaning up the beach.
“Do 2 get thru” project at Camosun College
Through the use of interactive theatre, this group worked with a faculty member to raise awareness and explore perceptions about substance use and mental health issues within the Camosun student population.
Little Steps playground and garden project
These creative students used materials from discarded furniture to design and build playground equipment and toys. They also set up a small planter-garden so the children can plant seeds and watch their vegetables grow.
AIDS Vancouver Island support for the transgender community
Through a variety of fundraising strategies and donations from local businesses, these students were able to provide much-needed supplies and raise awareness about gender identity and expression. They also created several community connections to make the program sustainable into the future.
The students are now half-way through the two-year CFCS program. After they graduate in 2016, many are planning to go on to UVic to complete a degree in social work or child and youth care, while others are looking forward to beginning their careers in community social services.
Cridge Centre Young Parents Outreach program 2015
Community, Family & Child Studies graduates bring about change in their communities. Read their stories.
Robert Gole, 2016 Graduate
"I was a mature student, who had to relearn how to write a properly constructed sentence by taking Academic Upgrading in 2010 before beginning the Community, Family & Child Studies program. I will always reflect upon the relationships, campus community and professionalism that I developed with all those I attended classes with at Camosun. The learning I received in the CFCS program was centred on social justice issues, advocacy and proper forms of communication.
I am so very grateful for all that I have learned!"
Robert Goal, June 2016
Sharon Gallager, 2012 Graduate, Rena Hayes award recipient
"I always knew, even as a younger person I was always aware of those in our society who, for whatever reason seemed to just have things harder than the rest of us. Whether related to poverty, addiction, prejudice, mental illness or some other hurdle that they had to overcome. Then as a teen I experienced ageism. I was seen as somehow less than equal because I was a teenager, I decided during those few years that I wanted to work with youth, preferably youth at risk.
Life went by, I was married, had children and then divorced and all through those years I hung onto the dream of one day working in the field of human services. I discovered the CYC program at UVic but the idea of university totally intimidated me. So I investigated college level programs because they offered smaller classrooms with a better student to teacher ratio. The fees were also lower.
Going through the Community, Family & Child Studies program was a very personal experience for me. I not only learned what I needed to learn to be a solid human services worker, but it also showed me that working with "at risk youth" was clearly the area I wanted to work in. One unexpected gift I received was the friendliness and respect from my peers. I also received a huge honour of being given the Rena Hayes award. Needless to say I walked away from Camosun College with very high self-esteem.
I now work part-time as a youth worker at Burnside/Gorge Community Center. I have begun designing a program related to G.L.T.B Youth (Gay, Lesbian, Transsexual or Bi-sexual) and the unique challenges they face. Ultimately, I would like to see it come to fruition.
The future looks bright and promising for me, and now that I have the necessary tools I can face it head on with confidence and positivity."
Sharon Gallager, April 2013
Erica Day, 2011 Graduate, CUPE 2081 Memorial Bursary Endowment Fund and the Rena Hayes award recipient
"My journey to Community, Family & Child Studies started, probably, from the womb. I've always had a natural inclination to help people. My mother was also a huge influence on me as a social activist, sometimes dragging us to protest this or that. When I was younger and didn't care much. But it left a lasting impression on me to create change in a world that I currently see as in desperate need for an overhaul. One of the biggest influences was losing my friend to suicide. It was devastating loss, and I desperately needed to create something positive out of it.
Enter Community, Family & Child Studies! Here was a program that really spoke to me. Centered on social activism, awareness, creating change and generally contributing to a better world. Who could ask for anything better? Community, Family & Child Studies were two of the best years of my life. I was surrounded by like minded people, people who inspired and taught me. I was learning content that reached into my heart. I remember crying in class a few times and feeling SO thankful that I was part of a schooling experience that made me FEEL so much. The skills that it taught were invaluable, not only to me professionally but also personally. My partner probably became a bit exhausted by me coming home and explaining to him how our families of origin were affecting our relationship!
Since graduating, I have had the gracious good luck to be employed by some very amazing organizations. I first started working part time with NEED2: Suicide Awareness, Education and Prevention as a Program Facilitator, which as Im sure you can imagine was basically my dream job. I still work for them part time and am also working at the Garth Homer Society as a Community Support Worker. I love my work, and I'm so thankful to Community, Family & Child Studies for giving me the skills to do it confidently. But if I'm being completely honest... there are days when I really just wish I was back in Wilna Thomas, doing some group work ;)."
Erica Day, April 2013
Keiichi Otani, 2009 Graduate
"After moving to Canada from Japan where I was born and raised, I originally was intending to study Business Administration as a major in college/university. However, through community involvement in Victoria (coaching youth sports, volunteering at local non-profits agencies, and getting to know more people in the town), I realized that I have a passion for helping others achieve their goals and making positive impacts on their lives. I want to make a difference in the community that I care about and I want to help others who I can extend my hand to.
From this moment of realization, my student life changed dramatically and I was fortunate that I had a friend who already was in the Community, Family & Child Studies program. After listening to her stories and experiences of the Community, Family & Child Studies program, I knew it was a perfect program for me, and indeed it was.
During the two years of my Community, Family & Child Studies time, I learned so much about “people” and life from my instructors, classmates, and every individual who I met through the program. And the greatest thing about the Community, Family & Child Studies program was that learning was all based on peoples life stories, real feelings, and significant experiences. I still remember the everyday classroom discussions that taught me many different points of view on life. I still appreciate the profound stories a variety of guest speakers shared with us. I will always be grateful for the practical experiences I gained through the Community, Family & Child Studies program, such as the community project and field practicum, which both opened up employment opportunities later on.
After graduating from the Community, Family & Child Studies in 2009, I transferred to Child and Youth Care (CYC) undergraduate program at University of Victoria. And with the foundation of knowledge and experiences I learned from the Community, Family & Child Studies, I successfully completed the CYC undergraduate program in 2011 and have been working as an educational assistant at the local schools since then. My next goal is moving onto CYC graduate program for a masters degree and to start my career as a researcher in the human service field.
The Community, Family & Child Studies program was the starting point of my journey as a professional and it opened up my eyes as an individual in the human service field. The Community, Family & Child Studies program unlocked the world for me and without those days in the program, I could not be here, as who I am, today."
Keiichi Otani, April 2013