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Upward Bound hosted diversity event, MOSAIC

ATHENS, Ohio (April 15, 2011) – A group of 30 students from the Ohio University Upward Bound program volunteered their time to help Athens area children learn about diversity and culture on Saturday, March 26.

Upward Bound (UB) hosted an event titled MOSAIC: Think. Explore. Connect. to help students explore diversity through hands on activities involving literature, arts, and crafts. The event was held at the Athens Public Library for children grades pre-school through third.


The UB staff plans three to four service learning opportunities during the school year for their participants. The Mosaic event was one of these planned projects, but also an extension of what UB students focused on during the Summer 2010 component of the Upward Bound program. Throughout the past summer and into this academic year, students have focused their efforts on bringing attention to a service organization of their choice. A group of students chose to participate with the organization Invisible Children, and helped spread the word of the plight of the group in Northern Uganda. Other students chose to focus their attention educating others on the devastation of oil spills in the Niger Delta and in the Gulf of Mexico. And a third group spent their time raising funds to support the national charity organization, the Ronald McDonald House.

The focus during last summer’s residential phase of the UB program was social justice, and student were encouraged to participate with service organizations and charities to continue their own education on this topic.

“We plan these activities because it is a way to show students the importance of giving back,” said UB director, Ayanna Jordan. 

The MOSAIC program included four interactive, educational stations that explored the theme of diversity. The children participated in a video sing-along, a puzzle area, a drawing table, and a reading area; UB students were responsible for the set-up and facilitation of each of the projects at the stations. UB students focused on making sure that the activities played incorporated elements of education that children enjoyed but that they could also gain a better understanding of diversity from.

UB participants who volunteered to facilitate the activities enjoyed mentoring younger students in the community.

“My favorite part was playing and interacting with the children,” said Mackenzie Call, a sophomore UB participant from Logan-Hocking High School. “Knowing I made them smile and laugh makes it all worth it.”

The Athens County Public Library also appreciated the extra help running an event. The volunteer hours of the Upward Bound students at the event was equivalent to the work one librarian would prepare three and a half weeks for explained Librarian Lee Banner.

 “We always appreciate help at the library, especially in these times of low staffing,” Lee Banner. “It was a great pleasure and bonus for us here at the Library to work with Upward Bound students.”

UB students are also given the opportunity to volunteer with a local business or organization of their choice during the six-week summer residential component on Ohio University’s campus. The staff recognizes the importance of volunteering and how the experience of working with others enhances learning. In the past, UB students have worked within the Athens area on projects involving the Community Food Initiative (CFI) and the Athens County Dog Shelter.

“Volunteering builds confidence and resilience in our students,” said Jordan. “It also gives them that feeling of ‘I contributed’."

Story by Allison Wichie, photos by Ayanna Jordan.