New Community Education Partnership Centre at Georgian a catalyst for social change
January 22, 2013

Georgian College-ribbon-cutting-Community Education Partnership Centre jpg

Georgian College celebrates the grand opening of the Community Education Partnership Centre at the Orillia Campus. From left to right: MaryLynn West-Moynes, Georgian College President and CEO; Angelo Orsi, Mayor of Orillia; Mary O’Farrell-Bowers, Dean of Orillia Campus, Georgian College; Garfield Dunlop, MPP, Simcoe North; Gwen Strachan, Chair, Georgian College Board of Governors.

Not-for-profits and local agencies can tap into a new resource at Georgian College’s Orillia Campus for support in meeting community and project needs. An official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Community Education Partnership Centre took place on Jan. 22. Students enrolled in Georgian’s community studies programs are taking on the role of “social entrepreneurs” as they work closely with college partners on wide-ranging research and team-based projects.

This past fall, students partnered with such organizations as the Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness, the Simcoe County Suicide Awareness Council, the local YMCA, Orillia Community Kitchen Resource Group and Kids Help phone. They worked on projects ranging from program growth and marketing, to research and event planning.

Second-year Social Service Worker student Toni Hounslow says her placement with Camp Couchiching was a great hands-on learning experience that provided her with the opportunity to make a mark. “You don’t have to be a graduate to start contributing to your field,” she notes. “As a Georgian student, there are lots of opportunities to connect with future employers and community leaders. What I loved about my placement with Camp Couchiching was being able to take initiative and think creatively. It was rewarding to be able to develop a project and see it through – from the beginning to the end.”

As part of her placement, Hounslow developed an anti-bullying component that was added to the in-school work Camp Couchiching does. She helped to facilitate three of the five bullying awareness programs that were run in the fall. Spinning from those programs, Hounslow also helped to create an event that brought together adults and youth for a community dialogue on the issue of bullying.

“Camp Couchiching’s partnership with Georgian College as part of the Couchiching Community Initiative was exceptional. It was a truly reciprocal partnership, which led to some amazing outcomes for both organizations,” says Ross McIntyre, Associate Director for the Couchiching Community Initiative. “Toni was driven by the social value found in the work we were doing and her passion was evident in all of her projects. Part of the mission of the Couchiching Community Initiative is to bridge the gap between community engagement theory and reality. Our involvement with Georgian College was, and is, community engagement in action.”

Social entrepreneurship is part of Georgian’s overall new entrepreneurship strategy. The college is incorporating entrepreneurial principles into every facet of the organization – from curriculum development to experiential learning.