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Campus Life student Tanya Thompson helps out with games in the Frank Kennedy Centre during a recent CanU program evening.

Campus Life, CanU programs join forces

First-ever volunteer student from Campus Life helps out with after-school program for inner city youth

February 18, 2015 — 

Tanya Thompson has always had a soft spot for children. As well as being an auntie, she’s been a volunteer at the University of Manitoba daycare, the Playcare Centre, for several years.

And now, the Campus Life student has taken on another volunteer position–this time at CanU, the university based after-school program for under-resourced middle school youth. CanU aims to get these students involved and interested in attending university after high school. The Campus Life program provides students with intellectual and developmental disabilities with support and guidance in auditing university classes.

Thompson, 22, says the reason she decided to get involved is that she enjoys working with children. “I like the kids, [especially the older ones]. They’re funny.”

The two programs have not had this kind of crossover before, says Trevi Freeze, program coordinator for Campus Life. “This will be the first student that’s volunteered with CanU that we’ve had. It’s a great opportunity,” she says.

Thompson has spent this past session of CanU, which began in January, helping out in the Frank Kennedy Centre during the physical education part of the program, playing games with the children such as tag and soccer.

“She welcomes kids and helps to run the gymnasium games,” Freeze adds.

On a busy Tuesday night in the gym, Thompson, who has been a Campus Life student since 2013, spends an hour running around with the children, tagging kids during different games and helping them up off the ground. It’s obvious from her smiles that she really enjoys this chance to work with younger students. And they seem to really enjoy having her there.

By day at the U of M, Thompson is taking studies in English, which she enjoys—especially writing reports on what she has read. She is currently working on a literature course called Literature Since 1900.

Freeze is hoping that the two programs can continue to work closely together and that perhaps there will be more volunteers from Campus Life when CanU starts up again in the fall.

As for Thompson, she is hoping to be able to volunteer again next year.

The Faculty of Education is a CanU partner. More than 45 Bachelor of Education students and eight Faculty members are involved in designing and leading two unique programs, CanU Explore and CanU Academy, for 100 Grades 5-6 students. On Tuesday evenings, the Education CanU program works with students from nine schools across three school divisions.

Campus Life has run at the University of Manitoba since 2004 and its goal is to promote inclusive education at the post-secondary level for students who may have not otherwise had exposure to university classes. Students are able to audit classes and are provided with tutors who help to guide them through classes and other aspects of student life.

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