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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 519.432.8353, ext. 28011