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Community-based Queen’s Cares program expands

Students will spend Reading Week supporting local organizations. 

Queen’s Cares participant orientation session
Students participating in the Alternative Reading Week program engage in an orientation session that was hosted by the Student Experience Office. (Communications Staff)

For a growing group of students, Reading Week is about more than just hitting the books. It’s a chance to connect with their peers and the Kingston community in a whole new way.

The Queen’s Cares Alternative Reading Week program is a community-engaged learning initiative, run by the Student Experience Office (SEO) in Student Affairs. It offers students the opportunity to work in teams to complete a project that has been identified as a need by a local community organization.

“Queen’s Cares is about partnerships, collaboration, leadership, personal growth and skill development,” says Kevin Collins, Coordinator, Community-Engaged Learning in the SEO. “Students are encouraged to make connections between what they are bringing to the project and what they learn, and think about how they can apply their new skills and community experience to their studies and to their career path/journey.” 

This year’s community partners include Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth, One Roof Kingston Youth Hub, the Boys and Girls Club, Kingston Community Health Centres’ Change the Conversation, The H’Art School, and KEYS Jobs Centre.

Participants can choose a topic and organization that interests them. Examples this year include creating a resource for Indigenous youth that lists scholarships and funding opportunities across Canada at Focus Forward, while the students based with the H’art School will be working with adults with developmental disabilities on an art exhibition that will be displayed at the upcoming Human Rights Festival at the Isabel.

Since it began three years ago, the program has been growing steadily and this year 30 students from across faculties and schools will take part.

“Queen’s Cares is a truly amazing program that offers a different opportunity for students,” says Julia Witmer (Artsci’18). “The program creates a connection between personal, social and academic growth with community engaged learning, as opposed to typical volunteering. This distinction is important and valuable, as other positions often lack reflection, and skill building and academic connections. I am happy to say this is my third year being involved in the program.”

Next year, the program will include an international opportunity for students.

For more information, visit the Student Experience Office website