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Community Connection brings university and neighborhood together

UTSC faculty and students mingled and swapped ideas with members of the surrounding community in the second Community Connections Leadership Forum last month in the Instructional Centre Atrium.

The university cooperates with community members and organizations in the nearby Kingston Galloway/Orton Park and Mornelle Court neighborhoods, collaborating on a number of research and educational and community building projects.

“It’s about discovering interesting ways to work with the community as a partner,” says Kim Tull, UTSC’s manager, community development and engagement. “We’re all part of the community. We’re exploring relevant ways we can all contribute.”

For instance, Ahmed Allahwala, a lecturer in City Studies, was there to talk about the youth friendly designation program that students conduct in partnership with the community, working to develop safe and welcoming recreational opportunities for young people in the neighborhoods.

Katharina Braeutigam, a post-doctoral fellow, talked about the Understanding Your Environment lecture series, in which faculty and students talked to community members about environmental issues. UTSC’s Let’s Talk Science program was also represented, discussing events such as its Waterwise educational program.

UTSC Athletics & Recreation were on hand to discuss the tennis program it runs in cooperation with the Boys & Girls Club of East Scarborough, and the various ways they support the KGO Kicks Soccer Club.

“The feedback from the people who attended was fantastic,” said Ewa Cerda-Llanos, coordinator of community-university initiatives for the East Scarborough Storefront, a partnership of community members and services. “We’re starting to see how much potential this project has. It’s really picking up momentum.”

Roger Francis, director of arts and science co-op programs, said that he was impressed by the people and the projects he heard about at the event. He wants to explore further partnerships with community organizations that could find a place for co-op students in the future.

The keynote speaker at the conference was Judy Rebick, Canadian journalist, activist, and feminist, and author of Transforming Power: From the Personal to the Political. She told the audience that the Community Connections partnership was the most effective she has seen between a university and a community.


© University of Toronto Scarborough