UTSC and community leaders connect
by Kurt Kleiner
Community members and leaders from the Kingston-Galloway/Orton Park neighborhood met with their university counterparts at the first Community Connections Leadership Forum on September 23.
The forum was designed to foster collaborations between UTSC and Scarborough communities. It brought UTSC faculty, administrators and students together with community leaders to discuss ways of partnering on research and community development projects.
“We look forward to the opportunities that will emerge from the bringing together of the two communities in a dialogue for change,” said Malcolm Campbell, UTSC vice-principal, research.
Since 2009 the university has been running a program called Learning in Community Service, an initiative from the city studies program in the Department of Social Sciences. Students enrolled in the course volunteer with a community group called Action for Neighborhood Change at an office called “The Point,” opened in collaboration with the United Way, UTSC, East Scarborough Storefront and Residents’ Rising, a community engagement group.
Angela Bracket, chairperson of the the Mornelle Court Residents Action Coalition, said that programs developed in partnership with the university have made a difference to the community. A homework club has improved the grades of Military Trail Public School students and a Safewalk program helps get them to school safely.
“Partnership is essential. Partnership is like breathing,” Bracket told the forum.
Farrah Chanda Aslam, a former city studies and women’s studies major at UTSC, said she became involved in community work in 2009, volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club of East Scarborough. She said that the work provided her with a rich learning experience and taught her to appreciate the strengths of the community she worked in. She is now studying social work at the St. George Campus.
Principal and Vice-President Franco Vaccarino spoke about immigrating to Canada as a three-year-old and, in his early years, living in a community where few had a connection to higher education. He said that partnerships like those UTSC is involved in could provide bridges to students who might otherwise not consider university.
The forum also heard from United Way Toronto President and CEO Susan McIsaac; SCSU Vice-President External Abdalla Al-Baalawy; Professor of Geography Susannah Bunce, who was instrumental in starting the Learning in Community Service course; Fazilatun Nessa Babli, a long-time community activist; and Anne Gloger, director of the East Scarborough Storefront, which serves as a central hub for organizations providing community services.Article categories:
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