At the best of times, the broadcast centre for CKDU in the Student Union Building is a hubbub of activity.
But you should see it when a half-dozen pre-teens take over.
Like a whirlwind, the kids rush through, grabbing seats by the microphones to practice their best radio voice. They make fake ‘announcements,’ making their friends out to be celebrities over the pretend airways. They practice putting on records, just like the DJ would. And all the while, CKDU’s Program Director Tarek Al-Zand works with the students, explaining to them all the intricacies of radio broadcast.
The visit is part of Power of Word, a summer camp put on for the first time this year by the Dalhousie Student Union. It’s offered free of charge to a group grade six and seven students from Halifax’s north end, with the goal of providing opportunities for self-expression and literacy development.
Jamie Arron, DSU vice-president student life and one of several DSU executive members involved in the program, says that it was inspired by the idea of leveraging Dalhousie student expertise to make a difference in the community.
“We have so many resources here at Dal,” he explains. “We have CKDU, the journalism program at Kings, law students...it lets us really offer up some new avenues of learning to these students.”
The camp lasts for four weeks, with three days of activity each week around a common subject: creative writing, news, public speaking and media awareness. Some of the activities include learning about debating from Dalhousie law students, and a poetry workshop with El Jones, a local slam poet who’s part of the Word Iz Bond collective. There are more traditional camp activities, too, including swimming at Dalplex and lunch at Dalhousie’s dining halls, made possible through campus collaborations.
Lameia Reddick, a third-year sociology and English major, serves as the program’s coordinator.
“I’ve always been interested in the relationship between students and our community,” she explains. “I saw this as a real opportunity to build on the connections that I have personally in the community.”
The student volunteers helping make the program possible feel the same way.
“It was really attractive to me,” says Zain Chemma, a management student who’s new to Dalhousie and Halifax this summer. “There’s a lot of diversity in the program, and it allows me to learn about Halifax at the same time.”
Mona Al-Gashm, a second-year nursing student, agrees. “We’re getting a great experience, learning as much as the kids are by spending our time helping them out.”
The program is sponsored by Dalhousie, the DSU and the Halifax Community Health Board. Though a pilot this year, the DSU hopes that it continues in the future in some capacity.
“There is so much power in words,” explains Ms. Reddick. “We want to make sure these kids appreciate that and get as much power from their own words as possible.”
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