Accessing you

Student involvement in activities supplementing their education is stressed more and more as individuals are forced to come up with impressive items differentiating themselves from every other university graduate.

With this in mind, a student-run non-profit organization engaged in projects in the developing world has started a new initiative targeted at Wilfrid Laurier University students.

ACCESS charity, an organization founded by Brampton, Ontario high school students in 2006 initially to collect school supplies for underprivileged children in Jamaica, Honduras and elsewhere, is launching the ACCESS U initiative beginning at Laurier in October. The new group is branching out to reach university students through workshops hosted for and by students.

The $2.00 admission charged for the workshops will go towards ACCESS charity operations.

ACCESS U Laurier was recently granted campus club status under the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union (WLUSU), according to the club’s president Jon Pryce, a third-year political science and history student.

ACCESS U will begin workshops and seminars next month, some of which will be hosted by upper-year Laurier students.

“Developing world leaders is what ACCESS U’s main focus will be,” said Kody Robinson, the organization’s communications manager.

“We decided to offer these workshops so that [students] can develop as leaders, so that they can go out and be involved in social justice and NGOs.”

“What we really want to be able to do is get the upper-year students to be able to express themselves in a different way,” Pryce said, explaining that the workshops in a variety of disciplines will provide students, both attendees and those conducting the talks, with background information that can be applied to future leadership roles.

Michael Onabolu has been involved with ACCESS since its inception. The third-year political science student is taking an advisory role in ACCESS’s Laurier operation.

“We found that we developed our own skills,” he said of his own and other ACCESS members’ involvement with the charity. “So it made sense that if we were continuing in a university setting like this, why not help others develop their own skills as well?”

Pryce spearheaded the creation of ACCESS U after experiences on an international aid mission last summer.

“What really sparked my interest in creating ACCESS U was when I went to Haiti, once I saw what was going on there and talked to the students that we’re going to be funding,” he said.

“I was hoping that the fact that we’re a non-profit organization would fuel people to want to come to our workshops and learn because all the proceeds are going towards this cause.”

“It’s cool because it’s still that education focus,” Onabolu noted of the material workshops will cover.

“Now it’s on other topics, topics that aren’t necessarily covered in the classroom — now let’s talk about them.”

Both Onabolu and Pryce expressed a great deal of enthusiasm for the potential of the initiative at Laurier, especially for the opportunities it will provide students.

Onabolu commented on the spirit of involvement that has made being a part of ACCESS so fulfilling.

“I keep in mind that as much as I’m trying to do well in whatever I do, I’m also happy in helping other people in what they want to do as well.”

“It’s just a drive now, every moment I’m thinking about this.”