Today, we’re more connected than ever through technology but a group of Georgian students in the Community Impact Lab at the Orillia Campus believe the meaningful connections we have with each other are dissolving – at an alarming rate.
They started a movement this year called #iseeyou, tackling the complex issue of social isolation in Simcoe County. Their work inspired the larger #CHANGETHENOW challenge involving students from Kindergarten to postsecondary.
“People feel unheard, unvalued, unseen – which is a bit surprising considering we have the tools to be more connected than ever,” says Kourtnie Farrell, a recent graduate of the Child and Youth Care program and one of the founders of the movement. “We’ve lost that sense of belonging and shared responsibility for one another.”
Working alongside 12 community partners throughout the year, the students started with the question, “How might we innovate to create hygge?”
Hygge is a Danish philosophy that centres on feelings of “cozy contentment” and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life. The students, through their research, found a strong sense of social connectivity exemplified through hygge and explored how they could adopt it to create community and wellness within a regional context.
The end result was 21 outstanding projects that are currently being turned into an online repository for community partners to be inspired by and adapt.
Social Service Worker students partnered with Firebird Cycle Barrie to connect youth with senior mentors in their community. The youth are provided with a free bicycle in exchange for sharing an intergenerational experience with a senior for six to eight weeks.
Transportation can have a big impact on youth who lack access. Early Childhood Education students developed a local game night tournament in small, rural towns with geographic barriers.
Cuts for Change
Couchiching Jubilee House is a transitional home for women who are homeless or near homelessness. Social Service Worker students created a “pay what you can” program at local hair salons to provide women with access to self-care services and give students in Georgian’s Hairstyling program valuable hands-on experience.
Bear the Bag
Working with the County of Simcoe, Child and Youth Care students co-created a universal backpack alongside homeless youth that addresses the functional needs of homelessness, while also serving as a social enterprise model by using a market-based solution for college students in order to generate social impact.
The students’ work in the lab was part of Community Impact Projects (CIP), an alternative field placement that offers human services students the opportunity to create sustainable community impact through social innovation.
Through community partnerships and experiential learning, students hack a wicked social problem that generates compelling community-based outcomes. Most importantly, they acquire, refine and demonstrate the key attributes of being a changemaker, which is quickly becoming the most sought-after skill set by employers across all fields.
“It’s simply exceptional to see the growth, empowerment and creativity our CIP students exhibit throughout the 14-week experience,” says Laura Koza, one of the CIP Liaisons who facilitates the program. “CIP has quickly become the incubator where passionate students come to graduate with a mission and not just a major.”
Did you know?
Georgian is Canada’s first – and only – changemaker college, recognized by Ashoka U for our leadership in social innovation and changemaking in higher education.
Our students believe they can change the world – and we do too!
Share your changemaking stories on social media using the hashtags #ExperienceGeorgian, #changemakerGC and #MillionsofChangemakers