The joy of giving
Community Day connects Dal students with groups off campus
Julia Manoukian - September 10, 2013
Drunk driving is the No. 1 cause of accidental deaths in Canada — and the number one preventable cause of death. That’s why first-year nursing student (and Dal psychology alum) Garrett Lynds chose to get involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) during Dal’s annual Community Day on Saturday, September 7.
“It’s important to get youth involved,” she says. “I’ll be doing stuff and people will say, ‘Well, you’re not a mom.’ But you don’t have to be — that’s just who started the organization. Everyone is affected by drunk driving.”
Garrett handed out red MADD ribbons to passing motorists during Community Day. She was just one of a large number of mostly residence students who spent the afternoon volunteering for various organizations around the city, including Ronald McDonald House, Salvation Army Thrift Store, Discovery Centre, Feed NS, YMCA and The Arthritis Society.
Trish MacWilliams, a second-year commerce student also spent the afternoon helping the MADD cause. She remembers the group’s presentations always sticking with her in high school, which is why she wanted to spread awareness about the repercussions of drunk driving.
“You know you’re helping something bigger,” she says.
The Common Roots urban farm on Robie Street was also one of the beneficiaries of Dal student volunteers who were able to learn about environmental health through hands-on skill building, as well as meet some cool people.
“It’s something different,” says Montana Metallic, a first-year science student, who helped shovel and transfer dirt for a new flowerbed.
Xu Chong, also a first-year science student, says he likes getting outside and doing farming work. “It’s beautiful, and useful,” he says.
Down on the waterfront, another group of students helped the Arthritis Society of Nova Scotia by spreading awareness to passersby. They also participated in arthritis simulations by putting marbles in their shoes and trying to walk around, and wearing special arthritis gloves that make their joints tougher. It was an exercise in understanding a prevalent and painful condition. One in four Nova Scotians have arthritis, and one in 1,000 children in Canada live with it.
“It’s something that no one really talks about,” says the society’s revenue development coordinator, Nicole Barron. “We wanted to get the youth together and start something new.”
Heather McClelland, a first-year English major and part of the arthritis volunteer group, is new to Halifax but not new to volunteering. She used to organize national camps as part of the junior board of Children’s World Peace Organization.
“Volunteering helps the community, but it also helps yourself,” she says. “It makes you feel good.”
Garrett says the more she got involved with MADD, the more she wanted to do. And events like Community Day link Dalhousie with the larger community, so everyone can work together to create a louder voice.
“Other youth are going to listen to other youth,” she says.
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