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Published: November 22, 2017 Author: Christine Shaw

Zanesville Campus students from left, Anna McDonald, Kyle Ludwig, Germany Lee, and Mackenzie Gibson attended the Propel Ohio 2017 Collegiate Leadership Summit, a leadership program that promotes civic engagement and inspires undergraduate students to grow into civic leaders in Ohio. Student Senate advisor Jennifer Redrup, right, also attended the event. 

The Zanesville Campus was one of more than 80 institutions of higher education represented at the one-day conference designed to actively engage college students on issues that affect childhood poverty, including food security, inequities in education, and homelessness.

“Children living in poverty too often don’t receive the health care they need because their parent or guardian cannot afford it along with other necessities,” shared Ludwig, a Health Services Administration major. “To see how big of an issue childhood poverty, homelessness and education inequities are in America was breathtaking.”

McDonald agreed adding, “I plan on getting my master’s in Social Work and help families in urban communities. Attending this summit was very beneficial for me to learn about kids in poverty.”

McDonald also attended the internship fair as part of the event and felt that it was a good opportunity to learn about the various agencies that are helping local communities such as the Children’s Hunger Alliance, Ohio Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers and the Alliance of Boys and Girls Club. “I was very excited for the internship fair because I want to get involved as much as possible,” she said.

There were a number of presenters who spoke about issues that impact childhood poverty including education inequity and the opioid epidemic. “I learned that 74% of children cannot get into the military because they cannot read,” said Lee, A Health Services Administration major. “It was very moving that so many college students wanted to take charge and do something in their communities, in their cities and in our state.”

Gibson, who plans to become a doctor of physical therapy, echoed that sentiment adding, “I felt very inspired and touched from all the presentations and stories I heard.” She went on to explain that the opioid presentation was very informative. “It makes you look at just the little pain killers that are prescribed to you completely differently.” She also shared that the speakers helped her realize that it is a privilege to attend college that is not afforded to everyone.

Advocates tackling childhood poverty, including Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund; Christine Amer Mayer, President of the GAR Foundation, Barbara Poppe, Former Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness; David W. James, Akron Public Schools Superintendent; Dr. Robert Murray, Board President of the American Academy of Pediatrics Ohio Chapter and Children’s Hunger Alliance Central Ohio Regional Advisory Board Member; H. Luke Shaefer, Ph.D, Director of Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan and Matthew J. Wilson, President of the University of Akron were among the presenters.

“The four students that participated were engaged in the topic and the presentations,” Redrup said. “The topic is relevant to each of their chosen career fields.”

Three of the four students will graduate in the spring and as Redrup shared, “They will take this inspiration into the field with them.”