12/10/2013 11:10:05 AM
Civic Engagement Camp Goes to City Hall
Thursday, July 26, 2012
On Wednesday morning, 12 local high school students in Siena’s second annual Civic Engagement Camp sat around a City Hall conference room table with Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings to discuss the initiatives he is taking on a variety of topics including community building, education, sustainability and the relationship between for-profits and nonprofits.
“He was really open to having us there and answered all of the students’ questions,” said April Risley ’12, coordinator of Academic Community Engagement quality assurance and youth programs.
The camp, run by Siena’s office of Academic Community Engagement, gives high school students the opportunity to learn about the local community and nonprofit agencies working to make a difference in the area. Students from around the Capital Region, including Ballston Spa, Green Tech, Albany Leadership Academy, Niskayuna and Schenectady High Schools have participated in the week-long camp, which is currently in its third and final session. Each week Mayor Jennings meets with the students before they take a tour of the state capitol.
“They walk away with a whole week of community service,” Risley said. “They’re trained and then take those tools out into the community and go to work.”
The campers are trained in diversity, sustainability, communication and team building activities. Each day, the campers are sent in teams to volunteer at local nonprofits. At the end of the week, the groups complete a project for their respective agency that is designed to help create long-term positive change in the community.
“We try to get kids engaged early on,” said Risley. “This is a growing field of charity to sustainability.”
Tofunmi Akinwale, who will be a junior at Albany Leadership Academy this fall, is participating in her second week of Siena’s Civic Engagement Camp. Last week she worked with Refugees and Immigrant Support Services of Emmaus (RISSE).
“We helped people who are getting used to a different language and culture,” Akinwale said. “We read books with them so they can practice their English. At the end of the week we designed a Bingo game with pictures and words. It was really fun.”
The Civic Engagement Camp has also worked with Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless, Radix Center and 15Love.
Kate Van Patten, who will be a junior at Guilderland High School this fall, is volunteering at Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless where kids go for a free lunch and structure during the summer.
“I really liked meeting with the kids and being a role model,” Van Patten said.
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