Have you ever felt that, given the resources, you could further advance the issues you’re passionate about? Ever wanted an Environmental Education and Awareness Week or a Self Awareness Initiative that never seem to materialize? UofT prides itself on being a welcoming environment for all and supports new social, cultural, and professional initiatives. You may be surprised to learn that many of the equity events and initiatives on campus are proposed, developed, and implemented by students for students. If there’s a niche that your idea will fill, the University encourages you to share it! It can be difficult, however, to get involved with student life when you don’t have the financial backing to carry out the ideas you’d love to promote.
Thankfully, the university recognizes that most students do not have wads of cash lying around idly. Organizations on campus have set up funding opportunities that allow students to take their ideas and transform them into projects and programs that can be initiated and developed to help improve our campus as a whole.
The Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) is one such organization. KPE strives to create an inclusive and welcoming environment, as do many faculties on campus. To promote equity and diversity at the University of Toronto, KPE has set up the Student Equity Initiatives Team (SEIT). Since 2010, the SEIT has helped student leaders take their ideas from the drawing board to real-world applications by establishing the KPE Equity Initiatives Fund (https://ulife.utoronto.ca/opportunities/view/id/1588).
The SEIT encourages students from different fields of study to propose, initiate, and develop an initiative that helps to meet and advance the faculty’s and the university’s goals of accessibility and equity. Students are able to collaborate with staff and faculty to create a program the faculty can be proud of. As someone who is involved with various initiatives on campus, I understand that the support that a faculty provides, financially or otherwise, can propel a program forward faster than you can sing The Apprentice’s theme song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ujXf7jZo50)!
The SEIT has been extremely successful in implementing student proposals. I’ve listed a few below:
Mental Health Awareness Week (2011-2012):
Student leaders, along with staff and faculty, helped organize a series of events that demonstrated the link between physical education and mental health. The “Moving Toward Change” initiative included a Walk for Hope event, a panel discussion on The Journey to Recovery, and an introduction to Mindful Meditation.
Aboriginal Initiatives (2011-2012):
Student leaders were mentored to develop the following numerous Aboriginal initiatives. An Aboriginal Leadership and Wellness series, a March Break event “SOAR Aboriginal Youth Gathering,” and the piloting of an Aboriginal Cultural Awareness workshop entitled “Strength in Unity” were implemented successfully.
Black History Month (2011-2012):
KPE celebrated Black History Month by hosting a lunchtime fundraiser and a panel discussion entitled “Do Alternative Schools Play with Alternative rules?” The faculty prepared a display of Black athletes in the Athletic Center lobby. The event was attended by students and staff alike and gained immense popularity instantly.
There are ample opportunities for students to receive the funding they need to take their ideas to the next level, of which the KPE Equity Initiatives Fund is one. If you feel that there is a gap in the equity initiatives available on campus, don’t just sit back! Start your own!
Till next week,