For the first time in years, there was excitement in the air at Washington Gardner Middle School last night. Over 100 community members joined Albion College students and professors in the auditorium for a community dialogue session focused on providing opportunities for children living in Albion.
The event, sponsored by Albion College, was designed to offer an opportunity to discuss the problems and issues Albion’s residents see today. A board of leaders from the college that are active in the Albion community spoke about current and potential programs for children to get involved in such as The Big Read, art and community sports teams.
“Come October, there will be copies of a fantastic book called, ‘The Wizard of Earthsea’ by Ursula LeGuin, that will be available to all of you and you will all be invited to partake in community discussions about this book, about half of which will be led by students in The Big Read Leadership Program through the summer.” said Albion College professor Jess Roberts on her upcoming program.
The panel highlighted a new collaborative art space in downtown Albion. College students and community members could utilize the space to work on self-directed projects and take classes. The audience was then asked to split into smaller discussion groups based on topics that ranged from sports, art programs for children and adult education. In these groups community members were asked to offer opinions and suggestions for what kind of programs and initiatives they want to be offered for kids and adults. Transportation options and parenting courses were suggested by several members in the adult education group.
“There are a lot of parents here in the Albion community that don’t have jobs. A lot do not have transportation for jobs…a lot do not have the financial means to purchase a car and pay for child care. When you have older children, they are not able to get the same support that young children can” said Albion resident, Gwenetta Artis.
Students from the Albion Community schools choir sang three songs to end the event.The small group sessions evoked a new understanding amongst college professors and community members. In the near future, community members, college administration and students can look out for more discussion events and opportunities. This forum allowed students of the college to gather opinions and gave residents of the town a way to share their thoughts on college-community collaboration.
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