Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

What started out as a project focusing on the issue of bullying within post-secondary settings has turned into an inspiring new movement embraced by the entire Lakehead Orillia community, which is having a remarkable effect on the campus culture.

The “Audacity Movement” (AM) is an initiative born of two Lakehead Orillia social work students who are completing their work placements with the University’s department of Student Affairs.

The students, Quentin Evans and Laura East, who are enrolled in the University’s one-year post-graduate Honours Bachelor of Social Work (HBSW) program, began working with the Student Affairs team in the fall of 2013. This week the pair will discuss their project as part of a workshop session at the Canadian Association of College & University Student Services (CACUSS) conferencein Halifax.

This is the first time that social work students have been assigned placements within the University.

The idea for the students’ placements came about when Lakehead University’s Associate Vice-Provost, Frank Cappadocia, was sharing with colleagues the challenges he faced with student code of conduct cases, often involving incidents of bullying or cyberbullying. The Social Work department was in a position to offer help. It turned out to be a win-win situation – two students gained placements, while Student Affairs was able to benefit from the training and skill of advanced Social Work students.

Quentin and Evans set out, along with support and guidance from Cappadocia, to tackle the issues, as presented.

“Once we began researching the situation, we quickly realized that the answer was not to say “no” to bullying, but to say “yes” to positive interaction,” explained Evans. “Our research into the campus culture led us to the need for action related to the root causes of bullying, instead of action against the symptoms,” added East.

The AM movement is based on the definition of ‘audacity’ – the courage to do or say something – and focuses on acts of kindness that are rewarded with an ‘AM’ token. The small wooden tokens, distributed in creative ways throughout the campus community, can be traded in for coffee or tea in the cafeteria and then recycled and shared continuously.

“Quentin and Laura have done something remarkable for the campus with the AM project,” said Cappadocia. “They have managed to involve the entire campus community in its creation; it is owned collectively.”

Cappadocia adds that the impact is evident from the comments received:

“It’s amazing to see that the Audacity Movement has become so successful in such a short period of time. We forget to incorporate kindness into our busy lives. AM is the seed planted here that reminds us that when we embrace the culture of charity, life gets less stressful and more enjoyable.” — Cody Carvalho, Lakehead student

“I love the concept… it promotes conversation and makes people feel as though they are part of the community, which is especially important for new, young students who may feel intimidated. — Matt Keating, Lakehead Orillia Food Service Manager

“The Audacity Movement is fabulous because it enables people to be who they really do want to be, in an environment we all want to be part of… In recent times, it seems we’ve lost the ability to make natural connections with the people we share our world with… we’re so busy ‘liking’ things on Facebook, that we miss opportunities to like things in real life.” — Dr. Linda Rodenburg, Lakehead Orillia faculty member.

Story and picture courtesy of Lakehead University.

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