Redeemer students call for an end to poverty
Chew On This! Redeemer students campaign to end poverty
2 min. read
October 17, 2014

Redeemer University College students in a social welfare policy class joined more than 500 volunteers in nearly 40 cities across Canada to urge the federal government to develop a national poverty reduction plan. The students participated in the campaign – called Chew On This! – by handing out lunch bags with an apple, postcard, magnet and a short elevator pitch about why it’s time for a federal policy on poverty reduction. The campaign is run by the anti-poverty organization Dignity for All. The organization marked October 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. According to “Canada Without Poverty,” seven provinces and two territories have adopted poverty reduction plans. Graham Milner, an organizer with Dignity For All explained, “Thousands of Canadians are demanding the federal government establish a plan to eradicate poverty and hunger for the nearly 900,000 people in Canada who use food banks each month and for the millions of others struggling to get by.” Student Lana Burchell was encouraged by the responses as she handed out bags by a grocery store: “Three women were loading groceries into their trunk. When I told them about the campaign, they said they would love to support it, because they were actually buying groceries for the food bank in their community!” Most of the students had never done something like this before. “It’s a great opportunity to be challenged to try something new,” said Dr. Jim Vanderwoerd, the instructor of the third-year Social Welfare Policy course in Redeemer’s Sociology/Social Work program. “It’s one thing to discuss poverty in the safe comfort of the classroom, but it’s entirely different to have that conversation with a stranger in a parking lot.” Students in the Social Welfare Policy course study federal and provincial policies that deal with social problems facing many Canadians. But, studying policy is about more than just laws and regulations. According to Vanderwoerd, “Social policy might seem dry and boring but it touches all of us. We’re talking about real people with real problems who depend on the policies that Canada has created to care for one another.” Hands-on experiences such as these are often what make the most impact in students’ learning. Redeemer is continuing to expand its experiential learning opportunities, and these activities provide tangible ways to connect what they’re learning in the classroom to real-world experiences. Participating in this campaign is just one of the many activities that students in Sociology/Social Work courses can anticipate.

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