Community service learning projects create strong community bonds and job-ready grads
January 25, 2013

Georgian College Interior Decorating students have gained valuable real-life employment skills through a community service learning project with New Path Youth and Family Services of Simcoe County.

As an organization that promotes mental health and wellness for children, youth, families and their communities, staff at New Path decided that its office waiting areas needed sprucing up to ensure their clients’ first point of contact was indeed a positive one. It was from this idea that a project was formed.

“I thought that if we could tap into community resources, the college specifically, they could provide some innovative ideas from a youthful perspective,” says Jenn Hansen, New Path staff member and Youth Engagement committee member.

Five New Path offices in Barrie, Cookstown, Collingwood and Orillia jumped on board at the prospect of redecorated waiting areas. Five decorating teams of approximately four students per team were assigned to each of the five facilities.

Student groups conducted site visits to each centre to measure and photograph the space and find out about function, users and expectations. The students researched and came up with a decorating plan. Four weeks later the designs were unveiled to rave reviews by the client.

“This project was a great chance for me and other members of my team to work together toward giving our client and our community something they needed, while gaining an enriched learning experience,” said Almira Medifar, second-year student in the Interior Decorating program.

New Path and Georgian staff were extremely pleased with the effort from their youthful experts. Each team’s proposal was unique and facilitated a custom look for each waiting room. The success of this collaborative project has now opened the doors to future opportunities for Interior Decorating students working with various community organizations.

“This project was a very valuable experience for our Interior Decorating students and we truly appreciate the opportunity to connect with New Path as part of this student learning experience,” says Marlene Mitchelmore, Co-ordinator, Interior Decorating program. She adds that this project continues to give.

After learning about the project, first-year Interior Decorating student Kristine Chalmers thought it would be fitting for New Path clients to have something truly inspirational in the waiting area – something that allowed the youth to know people care about them, believe in them and would encourage them to chase their dreams. Chalmers commissioned a piece of art from Fine Art student Dheeko Kinfe, who came highly recommend by his program co-ordinator. It will be framed and hung in one of the New Path waiting areas upon completion later this term.