BreakingGround Community Program Grants help transform what would otherwise be one-time community service projects into forums for the development of civic agency. Projects funded in 2012-13 include:
Food for Thought (Charlotte Keniston and Romy Hübler, Graduate Student Association): Pigtown Food for Thought seeks to educate Pigtown/Washington Village youth about healthy food choices in order to empower them to become advocates in their families and among their neighbors. UMBC graduate students will offer cooking classes for 6-8 Pigtown youth, and will also work with them to make container gardens in their own backyard, harvest produce, and learn how to shop for healthy foods in a neighborhood facing challenges in its supply of nutritious food options. These activities will culminate in a community event where participating youth will share with their community what they have learned.
Throughout this process, the graduate students will begin to understand in a very direct way what a food desert is; why one exists in Pigtown; how food deserts impact health; what can be done to address the situation; and what role the community, businesses and the government play in finding and implementing solutions. Graduate students who work in this area will have opportunities to collaborate with one another and with community partners in organizing seminars and workshops to reflect on their experiences and share their expertise.
Update: Read “Civic Science: Food Justice and an End to Heartbreak” by participants in this program and see an advertisement for the February 2013 Food Sustainability Panel.
Accessibility Hack Day (Shaun Kane, UMBC Information Systems): This weekend-long event held at UMBC will support UMBC students in developing and testing new ideas for making video games that are accessible to people with various disabilities. Students will be recruited to propose ideas for video games that are accessible to people with disabilities. They will then form project groups and will spend the weekend building prototypes of their projects. Faculty and student mentors will be on-hand to provide guidance. Participants will demonstrate their projects, which will be judged by a panel of experts, including representatives from the National Federation of the Blind and the Maryland Technology Assistance Program. The top projects will be awarded prizes.
The broader goal of this project is to jump-start interest among UMBC students, and in the broader community, for developing innovative technical solutions for people with disabilities. We will encourage students to continue the projects begun at this event as research projects (supervised by our group), class projects or independently. We will also encourage students to release their projects publicly.
Community Arts Project (Barbara Bourne, Education): This project will provide UMBC education students and faculty with opportunities to work with schools in diverse communities and showcase art as a platform for learning both in and out of the classroom. It will also enable parents, community members, teachers and children to collaborate on a project designed to enhance school facilities/grounds, deepen family and community involvement in schools, and increase avenues of communication between school faculties and families. Teachers, students and parents will join department faculty and students to create public art that might be as simple as decorating bricks to trim a school community garden or as grand as creating a mosaic to beautify a school lobby. The most import product of this work will be the culture of collaboration it fosters.
This project is one in a series of ongoing efforts of the Department of Education’s Professional Development Schools and continues the Elementary Education program’s emphasis on integrating the arts into teaching and learning.The Community Arts Project will increase UMBC teacher candidates’ awareness of, and experience in, working with racially, ethnically, economically and linguistically diverse populations and promote sense of shared purpose among teachers, students and parents, as well as local and UMBC communities. This initiative will also create an increased awareness of the role of the arts in teaching, learning and community building.
RICA-Baltimore (Catherine Cano, Shriver Living Learning Center): This project will take place at the Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents-Baltimore (RICA-Baltimore), where kids with emotional disturbance disorders are state-sanctioned to live for treatment and schooling. UMBC students from the Shriver Living Learning floor will provide fun and informative workshops on basic life skills, such as how to do laundry, make simple meals or go grocery shopping. Through interactions with the youth at RICA-Baltimore, UMBC students will also act as positive role models and promote a sense of community in the residence. UMBC students will work collaboratively with the RICA-Baltimore youth to help them gain the necessary skills to succeed in their lives outside the facility and to advocate for themselves.