Mercy Mondays: Salve Regina’s AmeriCorps VISTA members help 5th-6th graders in after school program
The Center for Community Engagement and Service has been partnering with the national volunteer service program, AmeriCorps VISTA to create three part-time AmeriCorp positions on Salve Regina’s campus during the 2021-22 academic year.
Nationally, AmeriCorp VISTA members work with nonprofit organizations and public agencies to create change within their local communities. Throughout this academic year, Salve Regina’s VISTA members will be partnering with Thompson Middle School to focus on sharing the University’s resources and talents to provide a safe, engaging and educational after school program for fifth and sixth grade students within the Newport Community School District.
The Thompson After-School Program
The Thompson After-School Program runs weekly on Mondays and Wednesdays in the Center for Community Engagement and Service on Salve Regina’s campus. The program is following the Project Citizen model — a civic education program for students and young adults that encourages individuals to learn about public policy.
The Project Citizen curriculum encourages participants to work together to identify and study public policy issues, the environment and school nutrition. Participants are actively learning many sustainable habits in the hopes of promoting better lifestyles regardless of living situations both in at-home environments.
Student participants are also learning about the importance of maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, the importance of plants and taking care of the earth. Currently, the fifth grade participants are growing their own gardens and learning about the time and effort that goes into growing healthy crops that feed individuals, clean the air and help the environment.
Salve Regina students create change through AmeriCorps
The three part-time AmeriCorp positions for the 2021-22 academic year are currently held by Kaitlyn Brilhante ’21, ’22 (MBA), coordinator for service leadership and community engagement; Emily Gibson ’23, a special and elementary education major; and Eric Peck ’23, ’24 (M) administration of justice major and philosophy minor.
All three are excited to be SalveRegina’s AmeriCorp members.
Brilhante is a five-year Salve Regina grad student majoring in business administration with a cybersecurity issues and intelligence concentration. She finds the program rewarding because it brings forth different children with different perspectives, ideas and abilities into a space where they can all feel welcome to share their skills with each other and most importantly feel safe.
“It is important for the children to realize that they can simultaneously seek personal growth and academic enjoyment through a fulfilling after school program like ours,” Brilhante said.
Gibson is excited to be a part of this program, as it aligns perfectly with her major of special and elementary education, and it allows her to work with students.
“The special thing about this program is the location, as participants get the opportunity to spend time on Salve Regina’s beautiful campus,” Gibson said. “These students get to see a college campus and interact with college students at such a young age which are wonderful experiences. My hope is that our participants begin to envision themselves at a university in the future.”
Peck is on the path to a five-year masters in homeland security, and his majors include administration of justice and philosophy. He enjoys the program because he believes it fosters healthy relationships and provides a safe, fun, and meaningful use of children’s time after school.
“After school programs significantly improve children’s performance in school and their wellbeing at home, and for that reason, I am thrilled to be a part of the Thompson Program,” he said.
Peck is also excited that this year’s VISTAS are working to build up a program that can easily be expanded and carried out years after the current leadership has graduated.
Overall, the partnership with AmeriCorps VISTA has been a success, and the Center for Community Engagement and Service hopes to continue this partnership for years to come.
This post is part of an ongoing series called Mercy Mondays that highlights Salve Regina’s dedication to its Mercy Mission. Search the tag Mercy Mission for more updates on the Mercy branches of Salve Regina.