Program Gives 25 Ohio teens Chance to Make a DifferenceSep 15, 2009
Twenty-five gifted sophomore and junior high school students from around the state will visit Miami University July 13-24 for an in-depth look at civic engagement, the theoretical side of service work, and how to take what they’ve learned back to their communities.
Part of a grant-funded program from the Ohio Department of Education, Miami’s Summer Honors Institute, B the Change (U Wish 2 C), is the only honors institute in the state to take an interdisciplinary approach in helping teens learn more about what it means to be engaged in community service work. Organizers have developed a curriculum and projects that are unique compared to those experienced at the high school level.
“Our program will give these students a deeper understanding of what social justice is, the issues of power and politics that go into organizing for this type of work, being involved in community, and the connection between theory and practice,” said Nancy Hoffmann, institute director and program manager in Miami’s Lifelong Learning office.
Ohio high school students must apply to be part of the Summer Honors Institute and meet state qualifications for gifted students. Once they qualify, students are recruited from underrepresented populations. Three times as many students applied for Miami’s program as what the university could accept, and are coming from every pocket of the state, from inner city neighborhoods to rural settings.
Through relationships built by Miami’s Over-the-Rhine Center for Community Engagement with area leaders and organizations the institute will allow students to actively participate in the center as well as with the Coalition for the Homeless, Over-the-Rhine Community Housing and the Peaslee Neighborhood Center. In the evenings, the students will develop a rain garden for the Oxford Community Arts Center.
According to Hoffmann, the teens who will attend – as well as their parents – have provided positive comments even before the institute begins.
“The research I’ve done says that this particular generation wants to be involved and make a difference,” Hoffmann said. “Programs like this give them a sense of commitment and purpose. Both parents and students think it’s unique.”
Miami, adds Hoffmann, is a natural setting for learning about civic engagement.
“Miami has a history of wanting to be involved in community and have a strong connection with community, locally and regionally,” said Hoffman “Civic engagement fits really well with Miami’s mission.”
The 2009 Summer Honors Institute, B the Change (U Wish 2 C) was developed through the Lifelong Learning office at Miami in collaboration with Miami’s Center for Community Engagement in Over-the-Rhine.