Watson Chronicle


Student Opportunities and Student News

Local Agencies Visit WCE as Community Non-Profit Series Continues

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Outreach liaison Deloris Rhodes guest lectures WCE students

Last fall, outreach liaison Deloris Rhodes launched an initiative in partnership with faculty titled, “Connecting the Community Non-Profits with Student Learning and Community Outreach.” Goals of the program are to give pre-service teachers knowledge of services available in the community and to connect them to volunteer and service-learning opportunities related to their courses of study.

Agencies that visited campus to share work with WCE students this spring include Dreams of Wilmington, the Miracle League and the Full Belly Project. Interfaith Refugee Ministry, which made a return visit, presented to Candace Thompson’s EDN 200 class - Teacher, School and Society - in February.

Dreams of Wilmington

Jale Aldemir, EDN 280, Play and Creative Arts – Feb. 10

Dreams of Wilmington, Inc. is a nationally award-winning nonprofit dedicated to building creative, committed citizens, one child at a time, through providing youth in need with high-quality, free-of-charge programming in the literary, visual, multimedia and performing arts.

Associate Director Emily Colin visited WCE on Feb. 10 to explain the agency’s work.

Dreams is sometimes called “Misfit Island,” said Colin.  She said it’s not a derogatory term, just a true description because students often find their way to the agency when they don’t fit in elsewhere.  The reasons are varied, she said, from children with autism, a parent deployed overseas, and students who have moved numerous times and are looking to make new friends.

Dreams serves elementary through college students. Many agencies start by assessing student risk factors, but Dreams views each child as a young artist and looks for ways to help them explore their creativity through avenues that include music, dance, theater and the fine arts, Colin said. The agency offers students “a place to voice a choice, make friends and bond,” she said. 

Founded in 1996, Dreams provides programming each year to more than 800 young people and their families through multidisciplinary art classes, family art events, workshops led by visiting artists and many after school and summer programs.

Colin said students thrive in the environment that fosters “creativity, openness, commitment and respect.” For the past decade, 100 percent of student participants have graduated from high school and 99 percent have gone on to college or military service.

The agency relies on many volunteers and specific artistic talents are not required, Colin said. Students interested in volunteering should complete the volunteer application available on the Dreams website at www.dreamswilmington.org

The Miracle League of Wilmington Board member Dan Johnson at WCE The Miracle League of Wilmington

Candace Thompson, EDN 200, Teacher, School and Society – Feb. 18

The Miracle League believes every child deserves a chance to play baseball. In August 2013, a Miracle Field opened in Wilmington, providing students with disabilities a chance to participate in the sport.

Board member Dan Johnson visited WCE this spring to promote the facility and the organization. He said the field in Wilmington “is the finest adaptive recreation facility and playground ever built,” with a large field that features a non-latex rubber surface safe for anyone with mobility issues, including people in wheelchairs and walkers.

Planning for the field began in 2009, and it took the support of hundreds of people to make it happen.  During the first season, 60 children played baseball and 15 played soccer, and the organization expects the numbers to rise significantly this year.

The Miracle League concept originated in 1997 with a single coach in Rockdale County, Georgia who gave a seven-year old child confined to a wheel chair the opportunity to join his brother’s team.  In 1998, research revealed 15,000 children in metro Atlanta with disabilities. An organization was formed to raise funds for special facilities to meet their needs. Another goal of the organization was to assist in outreach efforts to create Miracle Fields across the country. Today, there are 250 Miracle League organizations in the U.S. and around the world.

The Wilmington Miracle League is located at Olsen Park off Murrayville Road. The spring season is underway and the organization depends on many volunteers to help the children and cheer them on. For more information visit www.miracleleaguewilm.org.

The Full Belly Project, Agricultural Development & Technology

Brian Brinkley, Education Laboratory – March 11

In 2003, Jock Brandis teamed up with a group of returned Peace Corps volunteers from Wilmington to form the Full Belly Project. Officially, the organization supports the improvement of economic possibilities for people in global communities, but on a recent visit to the Watson College, Jock described himself as a “mad scientist.”

“While many non-profits feed and heal, Full Belly is different. We invent,” he said.

Brandis described work recycling soap in Cambodia, converting used linens from luxury hotels into school uniforms for children, and using sidewalls from old tires to make sandals for people around the globe. One current project involves designing school furniture for students in developing countries.

Many young students sit on the ground at school for years because furniture is scarce. A furniture manufacturer approached Fully Belly for help designing an affordable solution, Brandis said.  He wasn’t interested until a second request arrived asking for Full Belly to find a productive use for excess trash, including plastics. Soon, inventors and engineers were experimenting with ways to recycle plastic for use in making furniture.  Through trial and error, they developed a process for melting plastic to create a thick sheet, remarkably like plywood.

Students in the Ed Lab tried out the new classroom furniture, an invention Brandis will soon test in a classroom in Nairobi.

Full Belly is not in need of volunteers. Brandis invited interested students to visit their Wilmington location on Saturday mornings to learn more about the organization’s work. For more information, visit www.thefullbellyproject.org.

Jock Brandis and the Full Belly Project are also featured in the current issue of Salt Magazine. The story can be viewed online at www.saltmagazinenc.com