Students host interactive festival for local families and nonprofit

November 6, 2012

By Steven Johnson ’13

Bradley students organized and hosted an interactive festival on campus for Peoria area children and their families. The teacher education students of ETE 445, Educational Collaboration, set up various activities at the event including kids' games, a cornhole tournament, face painting, live entertainment, and a robotics demonstration by Peoria Notre Dame’s high school First Robotics Competition Team #2081 to promote STEM education and cross-collaboration between Special Education and STEM.

The outdoor event also served as a fundraiser with proceeds going to the Peoria Regional Chapter of the Autism Society of America.

“The purpose of this event was to provide my class with an experiential, real-world learning opportunity while simultaneously learning to be effective leaders and collaborators,” said Dr. Deitra Kuester, an Associate Professor who teaches ETE 445 in the Department of Teacher Education.

Using seed money provided by Dr. Kuester and her husband, Eric, the “group of go-getters we have this year decided to do some type of activity during parents’ weekend, which is where the festival idea came from.”

Dr. Kuester said the festival served several purposes, including raising awareness for individuals who have Autism Spectrum Disorder and about how to give back to the community.

Amanda Danko came up with the festival idea. She is a senior in the Elementary and Learning Behavior Specialist I program with a concentration in General Science. She said she was honored to take part in the family festival.

“Creating this event has been a challenge, and a lot of hard work. However, it would not have been completed without the help of everyone involved,” she said. “This event has given me insight to how truly blessed I am to be here at Bradley and surrounded by the individuals that I am.”

The rest of the ETE 445 class was also excited about the opportunity to orchestrate the event and looked forward to seeing how it would turn out. Danko and her classmates set goals for the event and worked diligently over the past couple months to successfully meet the goals.

Danko said she hoped everyone enjoyed the event. “Any donations we receive [were] greatly appreciated.” Danko said. All of the donations will go “towards a great cause. It is an event that can have a big outcome overall with the help of everyone, and it is a fundraiser that is close to our hearts and hits home for all of us.”