UNCW Honored by APLU, National Consortium for Outstanding Community Engagement

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

UNCW has been recognized by the Association of Public Land-grant Universities and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium for outstanding community involvement. In identifying the university as an exemplary non-finalist for the organizations’ 2018 Community Engagement Scholarship Award, judges singled out the contributions of UNCW’s recreation therapy program, which provides adaptable, accessible recreation and exercise programs to underserved groups in the region.

 “UNCW’s recreation therapy program focuses on preparing students to become competent and compassionate healthcare professionals who are dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of people of all ages with disabilities and illnesses,” said Candy Ashton-Forrester, recreation therapy program coordinator and professor. “Our students and faculty collaborate with many community partners, creating strong ties between the university and the region that we serve.” 

The university’s Strategic Plan emphasizes efforts to expand those connections through research, engagement and cultural experiences that contribute to the quality of life across the region. 

The recreation therapy program encourages students to become involved in applied learning and volunteer opportunities. The creation of the Miracle Field through a partnership between UNCW and Accessible Coastal Carolina Events and Sports Services (ACCESS) of Wilmington provided a facility to serve children and adults with disabilities, including returning veterans and older residents. UNCW students, faculty and staff have provided more than 12,800 hours of volunteer service at the facility since 2013. ACCESS of Wilmington was founded by Dan Johnson, an associate professor in the School of Health and Applied Human Sciences at UNCW. 

UNCW, along with fellow runners-up Cornell, Kansas State and Pennsylvania State universities, will be recognized during the Engagement Scholarship Consortium’s annual conference in October. Regional winners of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award – Ball State University, Florida State University, Texas Tech and Virginia Tech – will compete for the $20,000 C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award, to be presented during the APLU’s annual meeting in November in New Orleans. Magrath, the award’s namesake, was APLU president from 1992-2005. 

APLU and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, with support from the Kellogg Foundation, showcase the engagement, scholarship and partnerships of four-year public universities. 

-- Tricia Vance