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Mount Allison students enrich lives of local children

Mounties in Motion, Big Buddies, LINKS programs allow university students to give back to community

EDITORS NOTE: This article is part of a monthly series, “Cheers for Volunteers,” which highlights local volunteers and their organizations.


SACKVILLE, N.B. – This month, we cheer five Mount Allison students, Maddy Morrissey, Eric Oliver, Caiti Miller, Liam Stewart and Michaela Miller for their work with the children of Sackville.

Maddy is a member of Mounties in Motion, a group of student-athletes who volunteer at Marshview Middle School. Once a week, Maddy tutors a student who has been referred by a teacher with the consent of the parents. Maddy volunteers for a variety of reasons. She wants to be a teacher, enjoys spending time with kids and finds it rewarding when her students “get it”. A native Sackvillian, Maddy likes giving back to her community and helping the schools that have helped her.

Here’s what Sharon Bordage, education support teacher at Marshview and the school coordinator for referrals to Mounties in Motion, has to say about the programme: “The

Marshview community is very grateful for the Mounties in Motion programme. It is a wonderful opportunity for Marshview students to receive support in their academic progression, while also making connections with exemplary role models who give back to the Sackville community.

Eric, Caiti and Liam volunteer with Big Buddies, a programme designed to get kids active and provide an opportunity for them to form a friendship with a university student.

Participants meet with their buddies one evening a week for an organized game and some free play. Children aged 5 to 12 are eligible, and Caiti, the Mount Allison coordinator, says they can accept more children into the programme.

Why do these three big buddies volunteer?

“It’s fun,” says Liam.

“I love working with kids,” Caiti adds.

Growing up, Eric was involved in many extracurricular activities; when he was old enough, he began to volunteer in some of these organizations, which “. . . helped me grow as a person and provided me with transferable skills.”

Our three Big Buddies volunteers, as well as Maddy with Mounties in Motion cite parents and coaches as their inspiration for volunteering.

Ellie Mae Paynter, school counsellor at Marshview, says about Big Buddies, “Marshview students who have taken part in this programme go back year after year because they really enjoy the connection to the volunteers and the opportunity to be out having fun in their community. It's also an excellent starting point for students new to the area.

Liam joins us at Thursday lunchtime for chess club as well, which we really appreciate.”

Michaela Miller volunteers with the LINKS programme at Salem Elementary School.

LINKS is a tutoring programme that provides one-on-one tutoring to students who need a little extra help with reading and writing. Michaela meets with her student for one hour twice a week. She likes being able to help others and to see her student progress; she also likes the fact that the work she does will help her student in the future.

Michaela says reading Craig Kielburger’s book, Free the Children, when she was in Grade 7, had a huge impact on her.

She thought, “He’s the same age as I am and look at what he’s done . . . What can I do?”

“The partnership between Mount Allison student volunteers and our school is the key to the programme’s success,” says Ellen Hicks, education support teacher at Salem and coordinator of LINKS.

"The LINKS™ program is a great way to utilize many volunteers to provide one-to-one instruction for our students using a proven, research-based, early intervention program.

We are thankful for the generous volunteer support that allows us to offer the program free of charge.”

All five Mount Allison students featured in this article think the volunteer database recently implemented in Sackville is a great idea for the following reasons: it provides one central spot for people to go; it’s a good resource for organizations to get volunteers; it provides a way to learn about volunteer organizations; students can learn about volunteer opportunities outside the university.

Thank you, Maddy, Liam, Caiti, Eric and Michaela, for the wonderful work you do with the children of Sackville!

Check out the new volunteer database at volunteertantramar.ca. Whether you’re an organization looking for volunteers, someone already involved in volunteering or a new volunteer looking for an opportunity to help out, go into the database and get yourself registered. If you need assistance in registering, drop by the Sackville Commons at 64

Main Street, in the old fire hall, any time, Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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