RIVERVIEW – As New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) strives to transform lives and communities, service learning has become an important part of the curriculum and culture of the College. Through the Robertson Institute for Community Leadership’s semi-annual Service Days, staff, students, alumni and Board members are giving back to their communities and learning the value of different perspectives.
For the Spring 2019 Service Day, students from the Moncton Campus participated in a unique service learning opportunity that allowed them to “see” the world through someone else’s eyes. They partnered with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) for a guided walk on the Dobson Trail for visually impaired clients.
“When I first got here, I was quite nervous,” said Business Administration student Rebecca MacInnis. “I was kind of unsure if I was going to be able to do this. But after taking part, I’m extremely happy NBCC has given us this opportunity and I would like to continue to work with this organization to help people.”
MacInnis and her classmates got a quick crash course on the proper technique and procedure for guiding the visually impaired. Then they took a practice run on the trail, leading each other over rough terrain, before they tried their hands at the real thing. They guided CNIB clients along the trail for approximately one kilometre to a clearing, where they enjoyed a campfire complete with coffee, doughnuts and toasted marshmallows.
CNIB client Natalie Fougere was guided by MacInnis and expressed her gratitude to the NBCC volunteers.
“It’s wonderful to have these volunteers here to help us,” she said.
For MacInnis, the experience was so rewarding that she intends to volunteer with CNIB on a more permanent basis. As a Vision Mate, she’ll be matched with a client who needs help with sighted tasks such as grocery shopping, paperwork or reading mail.
“This is a perfect example of the benefit of partnering with NBCC on Service Day,” said Christine Kennedy-Babineau, Manager of Program and Resource Development for CNIB in Atlantic Canada. “Once people volunteer with us once and realize they can do it, they have a whole different comfort level and they’re more likely to become regular volunteers.”
Since 2014, community groups and not-for-profit organizations across NBCC’s campus communities have benefited from more than 46,000 hours of service by NBCC students, staff, alumni and Board members in nearly 900 projects.
Follow the Robertson Institute on Twitter, @TransformNB, to see how our students and staff are Transforming New Brunswick.