Global Network, Global Change
Launched in spring 2014 the innovative your evolution website platform helps UBC alumni to ‘change the world’ by highlighting their community-based projects and engaging the UBC network to support their endeavours.
Along with the online votes and recognition, there was the opportunity to win ‘social entrepreneur prize kits’, bespoke promotional videos, and other tangible accolades.
In fiscal 2014/15, more than 130 worthy entries were uploaded from around the globe, ranging from the B.A.R.K project to help the UBC Okanagan community reduce stress via canine companionship, to the Hold Onto Your Butts initiative to reduce toxic cigarette trash on Vancouver beaches, to the Help! Teeth Hurt! dental clinic for adults with developmental disabilities. Your evolution continues to grow, as diverse as the people and the passions behind them.
This year the Learning Buddies Network at UBC Vancouver and the REACH initiative at UBC Okanagan took the voters’ choice awards.
A Buddy System
The Learning Buddies is a nonprofit organization in Greater Vancouver that helps vulnerable children who might not otherwise have access to much-needed tutoring to develop what the program says are “essential” literacy and math skills.
“It is ironic that needy kids have access to pediatricians to get assessments but what they really need is support, and that can be tough to find if parents themselves cannot find it. That’s why I founded the Learning Buddies Network” says founder and president Dr. Alisa Lipson. “I’m really proud to see how we’ve grown over the last seven years.”
The after-school support network helps elementary students in Metro Vancouver who are struggling with their crucial reading and math skills. “As a pediatrician, I see children with learning issues and behaviour challenges regularly,” explains Lipson. “Often, it’s clear that with a little extra support and attention outside of the classroom, their skills and ability to cope would dramatically improve.”
“Youth leaders and ‘big buddies’ are powerful role models for their little buddies,” says Cherie Payne, executive director. “Each pair works one on one and develops a bond and a supportive network that goes beyond the literacy and numeracy goals each student has for themselves.”
For the kids, they learn coping skills, gain newfound confidence and get the attention and support of a friendly adult. In turn, the students and youth leaders not only learn valuable mentoring skills, but Payne also says these young adults are themselves mentored and “empowered by the professionals on our board.”
And so it grows, a buddy system that brings real change to the classroom and to the lives of young students and beyond.
Helping Say Goodbye
Resources, Education and Advocacy to Champion Hospice/Palliative Care; the multi-faceted REACH initiative offered by North Okanagan Hospice Society (NOHS) is designed to inform, engage and educate the community and care professionals to help improve palliative, end-of-life and bereavement care and practices and do so without charging any cost to the community.
Research shows that hospice palliative care enhances quality of life, says UBC Okanagan alumna and NOHS Learning and Effectiveness Leader Kelli Sullivan, “both for those living with, or dying from, a progressive life-limiting illness and their caregivers.”
With help from UBC Okanagan faculty, students and alumni, NOHS is engaging communities and community professionals and they’re responding.
Working with The Institute for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention at UBC Okanagan, in 2014/15 NOHS’s nation-wide Research to Practice quarterly webinar series connected more than 400 participants from coast to coast.
NOHS’s newest programs: the Learning Network, and Living Well/Dying Well which in its first four months alone held 10 sessions in three communities with 250 participants in total in the North Okanagan.
“It’s exciting to watch this initiative grow,” says Sullivan. “I strongly believe that much of its growth and strength is due to our collaboration with UBC Okanagan.”
With five years as a research assistant, doctoral student and project coordinator with the UBC Okanagan Faculty of Health and Social Development, Sullivan “started at NOHS with a passion for research, knowledge translation, capacity building and learning, all nurtured by my experiences at UBC.”
The NOHS-hosted practicum training began in the late 1990s. Today, students log 750 hours per annum. For students in medical, nursing and social work programs interested in the growing need for hospice/palliative care, Sullivan notes that the NOHS UBCO partnership offers practicum and also shadowing opportunities.
“It is our goal that, no matter where the students end up working, they will apply their knowledge of the hospice palliative-care philosophy to their approach to care.”
Jeff Todd, executive director, alumni UBC speaks to the success of your evolution and its ability to offer UBC alumni opportunities to affect change in the world: “Through your evolution we want to support the many ways our 300,000-strong global alumni community is changing the world for the better. The your evolution website allows the UBC community to share details of projects and connect with fellow alumni, find supporters, and inspire others to make a difference.”