2015 Jenks Leadership Program Service Projects
The culmination of the Jenks Leadership program is the service project. In teams of 4-6, Jenks participants design and execute a service project during the third module of their Jenks experience, using the skills and tools they have learned during their first two modules. Rather than assign a project to each team, students are given the opportunity, as a group, to choose an issue they are passionate about and come up with a creative approach to effecting change. Below are examples of a few successful projects.
The original mission of our project was to educate the Boston College community about the repercussions of smoking and tobacco. However, we realized that education was not the primary issue, as almost everyone is aware of the negative repercussions of smoking. So we decided to reshape our mission, to make Boston College a smoke-free campus. Though we understood that this was a lofty goal, especially considering our time constraints, we hoped that this Jenks project would be able to start a greater movement on campus, which would have effects and benefits far beyond our semester-long project. We identified three phases of the project which we felt were necessary to achieve this goal. They included raising awareness; garnering support from other student bodies; and finally the policy change that would make BC a smoke-free campus. The first step of this project focused on creating awareness on the Boston College campus, and we partnered with Boston College Relay for Life--specifically with its Colleges Against Cancer Committee. At the Relay for Life 12-hour, overnight event sponsored by the American Cancer Society, we were able to reach a very wide and diverse audience. Our initiative to raise awareness included quarter sheets and laminated literature, illustrating the dangers of smoking and tobacco; and in order to engage and incentivize traffic to our table, hundreds of “educational cookies,” which each contained a fact related to smoking or smoking-induced diseases.
As found by our research, universities and colleges with smoke-free campuses typically became smoke-free by a top-down policy. Because this project aims to create change via a grassroots approach, we recognized that gaining support on campus among students and faculty was crucial. Through a partnership with the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC), a survey was sent out to a random sampling of BC students, inquiring about their support of the smoke-free movement at Boston College. After raising awareness, it was necessary to create a network of support for the movement on campus to make it more visible and credible, and identified other key and relevant organizations on campus to join the movement. Some of these organizations include the BC chapter of the American Red Cross, Globe Med, EcoPledge, and the Connell School of Nursing Senate.
We hope that the benefits of this project extend far beyond our semester of Jenks, and while the most important goals of this semester to build a strong foundation for the movement, by raising awareness and garnering support were met, most of the action will take place in the months and semesters to come. The partnership with UGBC, Relay for Life, and the smoke-free committee will continue to promote and grow this initiative next year. As this collaboration becomes stronger, we will work with the administration to create the institutional change necessary to make Boston College a smoke-free campus.
As of April 2, 2015, there were 1,543 smoke-free college campuses and over a thousand tobacco-free campuses in the United States, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. 3 other Jesuit universities, 21 other major schools in Massachusetts are now smoke-free, including Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. It is our hope that Boston College will join the ranks of these other universities, to become a smoke-free campus.
Jenks Loves Mail
For our project, we partnered with the Girls Love Mail charity, an organization founded by Gina Mulligan, a breast cancer survivor, which collects hand-written letters and gives them to women undergoing breast cancer treatment. These letters are distributed through cancer centers and doctor’s offices. We set up a Jenks table at Relay for Life, where we gave BC students the opportunity to not only emotionally connect to a major world issue, but connect with others outside of the BC community.
The event embodied the mission of beginning in the night, and waking up into the sunrise with new light and new adventures ahead of you. It was very humbling to see the number of people who wrote letters which contained words of inspiration and encouragement. Roughly 150 letters were written by BC students, and as of April 2, 2015, the Girls Love Mail organization had received 4,568 letters and counting.
Relay for Life has asked that this initiative continue next year and beyond.
Mini Jenks at Bird Street Community Center
For our project we worked with middle-schoolers at the Bird Street Community Center, in Dorchester. We created a Mini Jenks program and ran two workshops. For the first workshop we used games to focus on teamwork and improving communication skills. Using Tinker Toys students were charged with building the tallest structure under various communication constraints; and with the blindfold game challenges were presented, and students had to rely on their peers to achieve tasks. This workshop accomplished its goal by demonstrating and teaching the students teamwork, listening, and nonverbal communication skills. The second workshop was focused on conflict resolution skills where we presented various skits and scenarios and had the students come up with solutions. With this workshop, students were able to walk away with tools that will help them to navigate any complex or challenging situation that they may be presented. The students were very engaged in the activities, and we received very positive feedback from the Director of the Middle School Youth Council at the Center.
Passing it Forward
The mission of our project was to organize and implement a student run program to foster learning and leadership for young members of the Roxbury Youth Program, while developing their appetite for opportunities for higher education. We had three objectives: to encourage students to think about college; foster goal setting to focus on future plans; and to build leadership and teamwork skills. The students were juniors and seniors, and for the first two goals, we directed the discussion towards their plans for the future and answer questions they had about college life. Using the SMART goal framework, we were able to provide them with information on what they needed to do to go to college and be successful while there. The students were very receptive during the workshop and were excited to think about their future. For the third objective, we used the Stranded on a Life Raft exercise to help them learn how to work together and learn the art of prioritizing. The activity was a success and the students reported that they enjoyed it much more than they expected. They got very competitive with each other and worked well in teams to get the best results.