Bursting the Bubble

Bradley students gave healthy lifestyle tips to students at Peoria's Trewyn School. (Photo by Duane Zehr)

Matt Hawkins
June 6, 2016

In a mildly chaotic scene, elementary students playfully mob Bradley students in the gym at Dream Center Peoria. College students offer hugs and high fives as they gather the children for stretching exercises before the afternoon’s main event — basketball.

Throughout the afternoon, the collegians give health suggestions about warming up and stretching before exercise, safety tips and other healthy lifestyle information as they work with children in DCP’s after-school program.

This interaction is an intentional effort to bring Bradley students to the community around the Hilltop. Every year, service learning projects take students outside comfortable classrooms to practice what they’re learning in local schools, businesses and nonprofits.

In Dr. Maggie Sas’ Resource Management course, family and consumer sciences students explore future careers and test their skills through hands-on experience at organizations such as Dream Center Peoria, Peoria Park District and Crittenton Centers.

“This opens students’ eyes to new opportunities,” Sas said. “For some, it’s their first realization of life outside the Bradley bubble. They see things they’ve never seen before and discover opportunities they didn’t know existed.”

For instance, Sas noted a need for FCS majors in corporate settings. That means students could work for a Fortune 50 company like Caterpillar without a business or engineering background. They could find employment in employee wellness or event and program planning.

“We’re getting a perspective we wouldn’t get in books,” said community wellness major Eva Book ‘17 of Joliet, Illinois. “I want to teach people in settings like this, so it’s important we’re in situations that stretch us now to show we can make a difference in our communities.”

Across campus, students in Dr. Deb Kessler’s Spanish for Healthcare class also spend part of their classroom time in the community. Her students assist professionals in Peoria-area health departments, bilingual classrooms and local social service agencies.

Katie Wampole ‘16, an English and Spanish double major from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, volunteered at the Tazewell County Health Department during the spring 2016 semester. She helped translate medical documents from English to Spanish.

“It felt good to help a group of people that traditionally has struggled to take advantage of health and education services because of the language barrier,” she said. “Volunteering at the clinic showed me how foreign language skills are valuable in everyday situations.”