Center For Service-Learning & Community Engagement Students and Brave Collaborate in Dance For Funding Scholarships

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Students at the University of Indianapolis are currently working to help support children in Indianapolis education programs through their Center for Service-Learning & Community Engagement program. According to Hounds Connect, UIndy is currently involved with helping Brave, a before and after-school youth development program. The program works in elementary schools, according to Brave Youth Program, and offers educational and community services for children.

According to the Center for Service-Learning & Community Engagement, the center’s goal as an institution is to promote and support UIndy’s motto of “Education for Service” through offered courses. Freshman psychology major Shayla Orkmon said the collaboration with Brave began at the beginning of the semester, and they recently helped host a dance on April 20.

“For our group project, we are planning a dance for kids in their program,” Orkmon said. “This dance is to help their community come together, which is why we’re doing it as a part of the class too. It’s to help their kids have fun and we plan it. They have more staff that are our age, but as college students in our first year, we give more community service.”

Founder and CEO of Brave Mary Caldwell said the organization was founded in order to change the face of before- and after-school care. UIndy and Brave’s values in community service overlap, according to Caldwell, and she said she wanted to collaborate with UIndy due to the university’s ongoing impact on the Indianapolis community. 

“I collaborated with UIndy because they do a lot of things when it comes to the community,” Caldwell said. “I read up and I go to different conventions … I saw how they worked with schools like Christel House, different schools that they partnered with and helped with the kids.”

Caldwell said the student volunteers from UIndy are driven in part due to the encouragement they receive from their professors. The dance, which was held in the Health Pavilion, shows the values shared between UIndy and Brave, according to Caldwell.

“We’re family-driven,” Caldwell said. “That’s why we have a family dance and the ladies who are here for the service learning class put together the whole dance to show what they can do in the community with the help of others.”

According to Chief Operating Officer of Brave Danielle Lehman, the dance was planned with the UIndy service-learning students a few weeks after they first met. Lehman said Brave met with UIndy students twice a week during the planning process for the dance.

“Our first couple of weeks were more talking about service learning and the fundamentals of service learning, and why it’s so important in a community setting and in our school setting,” Lehman said. “After we got through that, then we started doing logistics and just meeting with the kids twice a week, going out into our community and finding partners to work with to band together and make this event for these kids.”

The dance was open to everyone from Brave members to community partners, Lehman said, and had several other activities as well. She said the proceeds will help raise funds to support children who rely on scholarships in intercity schools.

Caldwell said the UIndy students also worked directly with the children. The students who worked with Brave were able to see the importance of volunteer work—especially in college, according to Caldwell.

“You were once those kids and when you grow up you kind of miss that,” Caldwell said. “When you are helping out in the community, especially when it involves kids, you can see how it was when you were a kid for people to come and help you and do things with you and do activities with you because it takes a village.”

According to Orkmon, this collaboration helped her get out of her comfort zone by interacting with the community. Orkmon said she would like to work with Brave in the future and likes how similar they are to UIndy.

“They express themselves, they’re more cooperative and they know how to just communicate with us,” Orkmon said. “I also like working with Brave because working with little kids instead of older [ones], and I think that’s just more enjoyable.”

Lehman said college students have a special understanding of students who need help with scholarship assistance. This idea of giving back is what Brave is about, according to Lehman.

“We want to give these kids opportunities that all these other kids have, but unfortunately some of our families just can’t provide that,” Lehman said. “So it’s important to understand the giving back process because some of us were born into circumstances where we haven’t had to have those struggles, but they’re definitely out there. That’s the thing that we’re trying to pass on to our participants.”

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