Athens, Ga. – A group of 438 University of Georgia students will forgo typical spring break trips like the beach and amusement parks to spend the week of March 8 participating in community service work at 20 sites across the U.S.
These students will serve in soup kitchens, clean up state parks, build family housing and work with abused children. The students have signed on for IMPACT, a program that offers substance-free, experiential service-learning projects and encourages an understanding of pressing societal issues. Students perform short-term projects for community agencies and learn about social justice issues, including homelessness and poverty, children’s wellbeing, affordable housing and construction, human rights, environmental topics, animal advocacy, Native American culture, disability awareness and HIV/AIDS awareness.
Kalpana Reddy, a third year biology and psychology major, is one of the student site leaders for a trip to Bluefield, W.Va. focusing on ageism. There, students will learn about mentoring programs and spend time with senior citizens.
“IMPACT opens peoples’ eyes to social injustices that exist outside our UGA bubble,” said Reddy. “It gives students a unique and life-changing week of service.”
The program evolves each year, adding trips based on student interest. New initiatives this year include activities focusing on urban environmental issues, food justice, educational advocacy, rural homelessness and poverty.
Sarah Ginsberg, a fourth year advertising and sociology major who serves as IMPACT’s outreach coordinator, said the students who go on the trips come back to Athens with an increased awareness of issues and a renewed motivation to help the community.
“Participants complete their trips knowing how much of a difference they made in the community they served, which often inspires the individual to continue their involvement in service upon their return to Athens,” Ginsberg said.
IMPACT is one of hundreds of similar programs that take place across the nation in colleges and high schools. It is run almost entirely by student volunteers with guidance from one professional staff member and one doctoral intern.
UGA’s trips this spring break, their focus and what students will be doing, are:
• Asheboro, N.C., affordable housing, students will help build a house for a family;
• Atlanta, Ga., human rights and LGBT awareness, students will work with Georgia Equality, Atlanta Pride, The Health Initiative and HRC Atlanta;
• Bluefield, W.Va., ageism, students will learn about youth empowerment through mentoring programs and spend time with seniors;
• Charleston, S.C., animal advocacy, students will promote issues involving animals and learn how to live a more animal-friendly lifestyle;
• Charlotte, N.C., education advocacy, students will work with Teach for America and KIPP schools;
• Chicago, Ill., homelessness and poverty, students will volunteer at soup kitchens and homeless shelters;
• Clinton, S.C., children’s advocacy, students will volunteer at Thornwell Home for Children and work with children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected;
• Durham, N.C., food justice, students will visit farms and serve in food banks and pantries;
• Gulf Shores, Ala., human rights and human trafficking, students will be volunteering with prevention and rehabilitation trafficking organizations;
• Immokalee, Fla., human rights and immigration, students will be working with organizations that help the children of immigrants and organizations that provide supplies to immigrants below the poverty line;
• Indianapolis, Ind., public health, students will work with farms and promote physical activity in children through a partnership with the YMCA;
• Jackson, Miss., disability/ability awareness, students will work at Hope Hollow Ministries, Mustard Seed, RideABILITY and Pleasant Hills Nursing Home;
• Mobile, Ala., disaster relief, students will learn about how disasters affected the city of Mobile and about what the people do before, during and after a disaster happens;
• New Orleans, La., urban environmental awareness, students will work with Green Light New Orleans, Our School at Blair Grocery, Sustain the Nine, Hike for KaTREEna, the Latino Farmers Co-op and more;
• New River Valley, Va., rural homelessness and poverty, students will work with various homeless shelters, educational organizations and childcare services to gain a different perspective on the causes and effects of rural homelessness and poverty;
• Orlando, Fla., children’s advocacy, students will work with Give Kids the World, an organizations that helps make the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses come true;
• Pembroke. N.C., Native American cultural awareness, students will be working with
tribal elders for the Lumbee Tribe and children at the tribal Boys and Girls Club;
• Philadelphia, Pa., disability/ability awareness, students will volunteer at an organization that provides resources, companionship and community to people with disabilities of all ages;
• South Florida, environmental awareness, students will help cleanup national parks and work with sustainable projects including gardens;
• St. Louis, Mo., HIV/AIDS awareness, students will volunteer at Doorways, a facility that houses people affected with HIV/AIDS, and ConnectCare, a hospital that aims to provide fast and affordable healthcare to their patients in 60 minutes or less.
IMPACT is advised out of UGA Student Affairs’ Center for Leadership and Service.
For more information, call 706-583-0830 or see http://cls.uga.edu.
UGA Student Affairs
The Division of Student Affairs comprises 20 campus departments that enhance the learning environment for students at the University of Georgia by stimulating the learning process, integrating the in-class and out-of-class experiences, promoting an environment conducive to growth and discovery and facilitating intellectual, spiritual, social, occupational, physical, cultural and emotional development. For more information, see studentaffairs.uga.edu.