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Students learn to make a difference

May 21, 2014 2:45PM

Students who enroll in “Advanced Social Work Practice III” at Pittsburg State University are expected to organize and lead a project that benefits people at the community level. When she put pencil to paper at the end of the spring semester, even Associate Professor Kristen Humphrey, a member of the faculty in PSU’s Social Work Program, was surprised at how successful her students had been.

“The 13 student projects raised $12,119 for various organizations,” Humphrey said. “That’s impressive!”

But, Humphrey said, the money wasn’t the most important aspect of her students’ work.

“Not all of the projects had raising money as their primary goal,” Humphrey said. “In most cases it was about helping organizations and the people they serve.”

The projects were widely varied, Humphrey said. One student involved 20 people in an activity to raise awareness about positive body image. Another student led 24 people (half of them men) in a movement to reduce victim-blaming in cases of sexual assault. Another student arranged for flowers to be planted in Immigrant Park in honor of pregnancy losses and babies who were born prematurely or with birth defects. Another project collected food for the Wesley House summer backpack program and still another secured personal hygiene products for the AIDS Project of the Ozarks.

Organizations that benefitted from the students' projects included the National Eating Disorders Association, SEK Humane Society, Safehouse, Boys and Girls Club of SW MO, Wesley House, the Make a Wish Foundation, Horses of Hope, March of Dimes, AIDS Project of the Ozarks, Above and Beyond for Bayleigh Lee, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, MADD, and the Susan G. Komen for a Cure Foundation.

Humphrey said that projects like these are both a benefit for the agencies and a learning experience for students who soon will be following careers in social work.

“I am very proud of our social work students who led these efforts and proud of our other students who stepped up and participated in their efforts,” Humphrey said.

©2014 Pittsburg State University

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