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Northwest Community College Students Co-facilitate Community Dialogue

Northwest Community College (NWCC) Social Service Worker (SSW) students in Terrace are helping the Skeena Diversity Society organize discussions on diversity and community development. The purpose of the forums is to recognize, appreciate, and value individual diversity and the role it plays in decision-making. Two separate forums are planned, one for Grade 7 students and one for the general public. On Feb. 8, 12 Grade 7 student representatives from local elementary schools in Terrace and Thornhill will come together to participate in a full day of fun and educational activities that will challenge them to recognize their similarities and differences, overcome any negative preconceptions, and work successfully and respectfully as a group. "The idea with this event is to catch the children at an early stage and put a spark into their minds that they can create change without conflict," says Skeena Diversity chair Sasa Loggin The second forum - A Dialogue to Develop Community Potential: Ideas, Diversity, Respect, Partnerships - will take place Feb. 9 from 10 am - 4 pm in Room 2001 at Northwest Community College's Terrace campus. The event is open to the general public. "In most communities, only a small group of people make the decisions," explains Skeena Diversity event coordinator Ruby Ware. "This forum seeks to encourage people to take an active role in the decision making processes that occur within their community. It's important to have the participation of people from all walks of life as diversity significantly increases productivity on a personal, community, and economic level." Both events are supported by the BC Ministry of the Attorney General, Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism and Simon Fraser University's Dialogue Programs. Co-facilitating these forums is part of the Social Service Workers program students' SSW 290 Community Development course. "Basically the students are learning by doing," explains NWCC SSW Instructor Karen Chrysler. "Part of a social service worker's role is to work with the community and try to include people that aren't traditionally involved. Using this approach makes for a stronger, more effective skill set for graduates. They will have had actual practical experience with community development." "We're all excited because it's not just sitting down and learning from lectures. It's like a practicum without a practicum," states second year SSW Diploma student Shylo Gerritsen. "I like the idea of working with the community and comparing the feedback we will get from both events."

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