Brescia students are sharing their expertise in food nutrition as volunteers in London’s first After School Program at Montcalm Secondary School.

February 15, 2011

London, ON – The celebrated After School Program at Montcalm  Secondary School wouldn’t have run  without Brescia University College  student volunteers. This was the unanimous message conveyed by organizers,  politicians, and funders who gathered on February 10 at Montcalm to mark the  program’s success.

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On two days per week for two hours after school, 29 Montcalm  students have received self-defense instruction, homework assistance, and  practical and educational instruction in healthy eating.

Eight Brescia  students facilitated the nutritional component. Second-year Foods &  Nutrition student Tenzin Lama assumed a leadership role to divide the work  among the volunteers, making sure the program ran smoothly. “I liked the aspect  of the different parts of health – nutrition, physical fitness, and education.  It’s holistic.” Lama said she would definitely volunteer again if the program  continues.

Program Co-ordinator Lucy Karanja said the unstructured  program provided experience-based learning for the students, including  education and practice preparing nutritious food. “Some of the students came in  with no homework and said, ‘What are we cooking today?’ Sometimes the students  didn’t even recognize some of the foods they were learning about, like  broccoli. This part of the program wouldn’t have been possible without the Brescia students.” Brescia students also  assisted with homework and one even provided kick-boxing instruction.

The program was originally proposed by the African Community  Council for African youth, who have the highest dropout rate among students in  the Thames Valley District School Board, but it was opened up to students of  all ethnic backgrounds.

Mayor Joe Fontana attended the celebration. “I want to  congratulate Montcalm, the Trillium Foundation, and Brescia. It’s important for us to care about  one another and support programs such as this.” Fontana  added that he hopes to see After School Programs available at schools across  the city of London.

Shawn Lewis, member’s constituency assistant to MP Irene  Mathyssen, echoed the message about the need for more after school programs in London. “Irene taught in  schools all across London  so she knows the value of a program like this. It helps to even the playing  field a little because students don’t all have the same opportunities. A lot of  families in this area have been particularly hard-hit, but the need is  everywhere.”

The pilot project began in October, 2010 and runs until the  end of the school year, except for the nutritional component which is funded  until the end of March by a grant of $30,000 from the Ministry of Health  Promotion.

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Brescia University College, Canada’s premier women’s university college, is  affiliated with The University   of Western Ontario. The  1,100 women registered as either full- or part-time students at Brescia study a wide  variety of subjects in Arts, Social Sciences, and Foods & Nutrition in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred, and  invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic College  welcomes students from all backgrounds and values diversity. For more  information, please visit www.brescia.uwo.ca

For additional information,  please contact:

Ericka Gonzales                       Manager of Career Development and  Student Engagement                       E-mail: courtney.mcdonald@uwo.ca                       Phone: 519.432.8353, ext. 28011