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April 23, 2015

Laurier’s Centre for Community Research, Learning and Action (CCRLA) will host a community-student mini-conference April 29 at the Apollo Cinema from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The event will highlight outcomes of the new Student-Community Research Partnerships for Social Justice and Wellbeing (SCRP) program at Laurier. At the event, student interns will present the findings of their research projects to partners, stakeholders, faculty, fellow students and community members.

"The students have been working closely with community partners over the past eight months," said Kate Murray, administration and development director, Laurier Students' Public Interest Research Group (LSPIRG). "This event represents the culmination of an eight-month internship and intensive community consultation."

The SCRP program aims to involve students in addressing real-life community issues. The initial cohort of 14 students worked with local non-profit organizations to design and implement three research studies to address identified needs and priority issues in Kitchener-Waterloo. The student interns gained hands-on experience addressing these issues with the community while being mentored by experienced faculty and community-based researchers.

"Initially I had no idea how we were going to synthesize the ideas of the different stakeholders we were working with," said Nora Seegmiller, a fourth-year psychology and sociology student, "but as I met with each stakeholder in November at Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre, I realized that we would be able to work together as a group to make our research relevant to each stakeholder's needs."

This initial round of projects focused on developing a better understanding of the following issues:

  • Experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer people accessing residential addiction treatment services.
  • Conditions of rooming/boarding houses and the effects of this type of housing on tenants’ well-being.
  • Barriers and supporting factors that vulnerable populations experience when attempting to access HIV/AIDS testing services.

"Working on this project with the students was incredibly helpful to the House of Friendship as the students were able to research identified concerns highlighted by our organization that we did not have the time to focus on ourselves," said Robbie Nussey, addiction treatment program supervisor at the House of Friendship. "The students were organized, focused and engaged on the project, and were a pleasure to work with."

The April 29 mini-conference will feature student and community presentations about the projects, a reception, and opening remarks from Paul Jessop, Laurier’s dean of Science, and SCRP program partners. The event takes place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Apollo Cinema in downtown Kitchener, chosen for its accessibility to all three project partners and the populations they serve. Information about parking can be found on the cinema’s website.

The event is free and open to students and the public.
 
“The goal of the mini-conference is to educate students, potential students, faculty and the public about this community-engaged learning and scholarship taking place at Laurier,” said Sue Weare, associate director of CCRLA. “It is also an exciting opportunity to learn about the vital work of our project partners – the AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo Area, House of Friendship’s Addiction Services and the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre.”

The SCRP program was made possible thanks to LSPIRG and the Social Innovation Research Group.

CCRLA is currently accepting applications for the 2015-2016 internship program.

For more details or to RSVP for the mini-conference, contact Sue Weare at sweare@wlu.ca or 519-884-0710 x3494.

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