Community Academic Reciprocal Engagement (CARE)

  • By Team #C2UExpo
  • 25 Apr, 2017

Written by Sierra Lindsay (University of Victoria). Sierra is part of the Community Jam Students Program.

The CARE (Community Academic Reciprocal Engagement) program is an after-school program that engages social work graduate students with Black girls in grades 6-8. The program is part of the larger program of the African Canadian Association (ACAWRA) and also is affiliated with the Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU).

CARE aims to integrate social justice and academic success by employing a community-based participatory model to explore gender, race, and identify issues to generate awareness and honour Black youth realities. Black youth girls work with social work graduate students to bridge the gap between what is perceived and what is experienced by Black youth. They also work alongside African elders who explore African epistemology, history, and host cultural training sessions on colonialism. The community partnerships of the girls, graduate students, and the elders create a space where they can demystify Blackness for social work graduate students and enhance post-secondary education access among Black youth.

The girls who participate in the program have a chance to tell their stories and have them represented through art forms that can create social action. By letting the youth understand their past and explore their future, there is an opportunity for them to enhance their agency regarding finding solutions for self-identity issues. Also, it empowers and promotes a healthy self-identity which contributes to immediate and long-term health and well-being. The social work graduate students also get the first-hand experience of what it means to be a Black youth which can lead to more permeable boundaries between the academic realm and reality. CARE is an amazing program for many Black youth girls who are leading the community in cultural understanding and in broadening their educational horizons.

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