Watson Chronicle


Student Opportunities and Student News

WCE Students Launch ‘Homeward Bound’ Program for Children at Good Shepherd

Monday, April 04, 2016

Since 2006, Watson College students have volunteered at the Good Shepherd Homeless Shelter, helping children adjust to their temporary environment. Every week night during the fall and spring semester, pre-service teachers help children with homework and special projects, engage them in reading, play games and provide individual attention to help the children feel safe in their new environment.

This semester, WCE students are also helping children transition from Good Shepherd to permanent housing by providing personalized bags filled with needed supplies. The “Homeward Bound’ Program was created by associate professor Katie Schlichting and faculty member Jerry Zinner, with support from a Friends of UNCW grant.

“When children transition to permanent housing, they often do not have personal items to take with them to help them acclimate to their new homes,” Schlichting said. “The Homeward Bound Bags give children some personal things to help them feel at home after leaving the shelter.”

The bags might contain a new pair of warm pajamas, underwear and socks; soap, shampoo and a toothbrush and toothpaste; a book or a stuffed animal, a nightlight and other items children might need. Since ages can vary from toddler to young adult, the bags are assembled individually for each child, Schlichting said.

“For children, there is great joy associated with moving into their own home, but there are also challenges,” she said. “The children depart with minimal supplies, often wearing only the clothes they came in with. We’re committed to ensuring that each child leaves with a personalized bag of supplies that will help them transition to their new life with a greater sense of comfort, belonging and ease.”

This semester 16 students enrolled in Schlichting’s EDN 348 classes are participating in the project.

EDN 348 is a Communication Arts required course for students in the Block semester of WCE’s Elementary Education program.

Schlichting and Zinner have coordinated WCE student support for children and families at Good Shepherd for a decade, with support from WCE faculty members Kathy Roney, Ann Potts, Lisa Buchanan, Georgie Bramley and Brad Walker.

In 2014, Schlichting and Zinner earned a Friends of UNCW grant for $1,000 to purchase an iPad, books for the library at Good Shepherd and a variety of art supplies and manipulatives. Shlichting said she’s grateful for a second grant that enables students to build on their outreach to children in need through the Homeward Bound program.