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Spotlight on Walden // Dec 21, 2018

Walden’s 13th Annual Global Days of Service (Part 2)

Global Day of Service participantsWalden University’s Global Days of Service is an annual opportunity to participate in service projects to effect positive social change. The Walden community and their family and friends can participate in Walden-hosted events or find another cause they are passionate about.

In Part 1 of our series, we highlighted members of the Walden community who focused their efforts on feeding those in need and provided education and healthcare. In Part 2, Walden community members chose to beautify the world around them and increase access to resources for underserved communities. Sometimes small acts of social change can have the biggest impact for neighbors and neighborhoods alike.

Beautifying the World Around Them

Dr. Kimberly Blackmon, program director for the BS in Criminal Justice program, spent her Global Days of Service at a local nursing home in Ormond Beach, Florida. She learned from her best friend, who worked there, that the elderly residents are often sad and feel disconnected from the future and their youth. Dr. Blackmon led her daughter’s gymnastics team in creating artwork and flower arrangements and delivering them to the nursing home residents. “If we have the opportunity to do something positive for someone else, we should do it,” says Dr. Blackmon. “Our goal was to give them a bit of extra sparkle of hope they may need to get through each day.”

In South Carolina, Dr. Denise Newman, contributing faculty member in the Doctor of Education (EdD) program, helped the North Augusta High School band clean up the area around their school and assisted in creating, transporting, and setting up props for their competition. The school had recently won its first-ever band championship. “The school doesn’t get as many volunteers as it needs, but it was important for me to show the students there are people willing to work and dedicate their time to helping them succeed,” says Dr. Newman. “Hopefully, the students will learn the value of helping others.”

Increasing Access

“Global Days of Service promotes the best human values: caring, cooperation, responsibility, determination, and peace,” says Inna M. Learn, a PhD in Psychology student in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She regularly donates small amounts of money for her year-round project that funds the United Ukranian American Relief Committee. The organization supports Ukranian children of wounded and killed Anti-Terrorist Operation Zone (ATO) soldiers so they can have access to basic necessities to survive, including food and clothes. “My brother volunteered as a soldier to protect the Ukranian borders for almost a year and regularly saw how they lived a life under constant gunfire,” says Learn. “I’m extremely excited to be part of the mission to help improve the future of humanity.”

Louisiana is in the top 5 states for highest childhood obesity and high school dropout rates in the U.S. According to Dr. Shelley Armstrong, Shreveport resident and program director for the BS in Health Studies program, athletics can positively impact these social issues, not only by developing children’s physical fitness but also by enhancing their self-esteem and social connectedness. For Global Days of Service, Dr. Armstrong volunteered at the Red River Revel Arts Festival selling food that raised more than $4,000 to support the South Highlands Athletic Foundation, which donates athletic equipment to local schools. “I believe we are in certain positions and places to give others opportunities for success,” says Dr. Armstrong. “Although the Walden community volunteers in different places on different projects, we are collectively providing service, which brings an additional greater purpose.”

In the tourist town of Kennebunkport, Maine, Dr. Bethe Hagens, contributing faculty member in the PhD in Public Policy and Administration program, helped the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust install a naturalized labyrinth on the grounds of the old Grist Mill property in the center of town. The goal was to see if 3-foot-wide paths could be wheelchair accessible so that everyone could enjoy the centuries-old experience. “It grew from a movement-disabled initiative to one where we wanted everyone to really enjoy the smells and solace of the forest and the journey of the labyrinth,” says Dr. Hagens. “We got so many ideas about what accessibility actually means, and the administrator at a local clinic said our permanent labyrinth would be very valuable for his patients.” Over the course of four nights, more than 2,000 people walked the 46-foot diameter labyrinth created out of ropes of lights. Donations from the exhibit will go toward a permanent stone labyrinth along Batson River.

Read more about Walden’s 2018 Global Days of Service projects in Part 1 of our series and our feature story, "Helping in Haiti."

––Jen Raider