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University Relations

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March 1, 2006
Contact: Jenna Sheldon-Sherman.

68 KU students prepare to volunteer at Alternative Spring Breaks sites in 10 states

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LAWRENCE — Forget the idea of a beach holiday — 68 University of Kansas students will be spending their spring break March 18-25 on service-learning projects at 10 Alternative Spring Breaks sites nationwide.

They will work with agencies in 10 states that address such issues as animal rescue, urban homelessness, health care, linguistics, environmental preservation, education and help for people with disabilities.

KU’s student-run Alternative Spring Breaks program offers students a unique opportunity to make service part of their university educational experience. After students are selected for the program, they are required to attend the Special Projects in the Community course. If they complete all course requirements, they can earn two college credit hours.

An Alternative Spring Break counts as one honors unit for the University Honors Program, which now requires students who want to graduate with honors to complete one or two honors units outside the classroom. The program costs participants $225 ($175 for site leaders) and covers their transportation, housing and meals at the sites.

Kathleen Daughety, Topeka senior, and Jenna Sheldon-Sherman, Lawrence senior, are Alternative Breaks directors. Melissa Shippy, Wichita senior, and Morgan Shirley, Overland Park senior, are the coordinators who selected the sites for Alternative Spring Breaks.

Those sites are: Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah; Cheyenne River Youth Project, Eagle Butte, S.D.; Give Kids the World, Kissimmee Fla.; National Coalition for the Homeless, Washington, D.C.; Native American Cancer Research, Pine, Colo.; Newcomers Center, Rollling Meadows, Ill.; Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Taos, N.M.; Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Ariz.; South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind, Spartanburg, S.C.; and Teach for America, Atlanta.

The destination sites are described in more detail below. KU participants in the 2006 Alternative Spring Breaks program are listed by name, hometown, major, level in school, destination and leadership role, parents and high school attended (when available) below.

Alternative Breaks was established at KU in 1995 with a spring break trip to El Paso, Texas. It has expanded to include winter, spring and weekend break programs and more sites and volunteer opportunities are being added every year. Alternative Breaks works in partnership with KU’s Center for Community Outreach, a student-run and student-funded organization that runs 12 volunteer programs and is a coordinating group for students and groups interested in volunteer projects.

Faculty advisers for Alternative Breaks are Linda Luckey, assistant to the senior vice provost; and Rueben Perez, director of the Student Involvement and Leadership Center. Perez also is instructor for the Special Projects in the Community course, assisted by Jackson Sellers, AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) volunteer for KU’s Center for Service Learning. Classroom instructors for Alternative Spring Breaks are Sellers and the two spring break site coordinators, Shirley and Shippy.

March 2006 Alternative Spring Breaks site descriptions:

Best Friends Animal Society, Kanab, Utah
Seven participants
Best Friends Animal Society’s sanctuary, a 33,000-acre ranch in Angel Canyon in southern Utah, is the largest no-kill animal shelter in the United States with more than 1,500 dogs, cats, horses, burros, goats, birds and other creatures. The sanctuary provides adoption, spay/neuter and educational programs nationally and publishes Best Friends magazine. KU students will work with the sanctuary staff, perhaps hands-on with the animals, with a dog for the week or with dog trainers to help dogs become more adoptable.

Cheyenne River Youth Project, Eagle Butte, S.D.
Six participants
Cheyenne River Youth Project provides a variety of social services to youths 4-12, teenagers and families of the Cheyenne River Lakota Sioux Tribes. KU participants will be tutoring and mentoring children, preparing and serving meals, doing light renovation and repair work and working with the nutrition center for the elderly. Working on the reservation in north-central South Dakota, the KU students will learn about daily issues affecting the Native American community while being exposed to the traditions and beliefs of the people.

Give Kids the World, Kissimmee Fla.
Seven participants
Give Kids the World Village is a not-for-profit wish-granting resort that creates memories for children who have life-threatening illnesses. Since its founding in 1986, it has welcomed children and their families from all 50 states and 50 countries. Volunteers will work in the village resort doing a variety of jobs such as operating rides, planning family activities or helping at concession stands.

National Coalition for the Homeless, Washington, D.C.
Seven participants
Founded in 1984, the National Coalition for the Homeless is a network that engages in public education, policy advocacy and grassroots organizing for homeless issues. KU students will work at homeless shelters, preparing and serving meals at kitchen locations and perhaps helping with other coalition projects. Volunteers are required to take part in an urban plunge, a real-life immersion program in which participants live on the streets for 48 hours.

Native American Cancer Research, Pine, Colo.
Seven participants
Native American Cancer Research is a community-based nonprofit resource dedicated to helping improve the lives of Native American cancer patients and survivors. In the last 30 years, cancer has become the third leading cause of death among American Indians and Alaska Natives. KU students will have the opportunity to shadow nurses on rotations, assist with patients and work with awareness and prevention activities.

Newcomers Center, Rollling Meadows, Ill.
Seven participants
Newcomers Center in the northeast Chicago area was originally funded to provide a secondary-school environment as well as a linguistic/cultural cushion for newly arrived students from foreign countries. Individuals attending the Newcomers Center receive support for English as a Second Language for a minimum of one semester or one academic year, then return to their home schools as their proficiency improves. KU students will work with students from around the world to help orient and prepare them for U.S.high schools.

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Taos, N.M.
Six participants
Founded in 1995 by local citizens in the northern New Mexico area and affiliated with AmeriCorps, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps aims to recognize, engage and train area youth through team service and skill building relating to projects in the community, schools and environment. KU student volunteers may provide afternoon tutoring, classroom help, environmental stewardship and community improvement.

Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Ariz.
Seven participants
Since 1933, Saguaro National Park near Tucson has protected giant saguaro cactus and preserved other parts of the Arizona Sonora Desert ecosystem. The variety of life represented by saguaro and other cacti, desert trees, shrubs and animals in the Sonoran Desert area far surpasses all other North American deserts. KU students will camp at the national park, where they will work on trail maintenance and assist with the removal of non-native plant species.

South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind, Spartanburg, S.C.
Seven participants
South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind, a specialized instructional and resource center with outreach centers throughout South Carolina, works with deaf, blind and sensory- multidisabled individuals of all ages to provide educational, vocational and developmental services. KU students will be working at the main Spartanburg facility with visually impaired students 5 years and older; they will also work on indoor and outdoor projects designed to aid developmental abilities of the visually impaired individuals.

Teach for America, Atlanta
Seven participants
Teach for America is the national corps of college graduates from all academic majors who are committed to teaching for two years in urban and rural under-resourced schools. Participants will shadow a member of the Teach for America team in Atlanta’s lowest-income neighborhoods, working directly with elementary school students and staff in classroom, extracurricular and community activities.


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