Each year the CCCE sponsors Alternative Spring Break: trips between Winter and Spring terms that focus on learning through community engagement activities. Partnering with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, Alternative Spring Break allows students the opportunity to spend their time off exploring and addressing topics that impact communities across the region. Through the generous support of the Julianne Williams Memorial Fund, the program sends groups of 5-12 students up to Wolf Ridge in Northern Minnesota to work on developing a sustainable farm or down to Waterloo, Iowa, where students help build houses for Habitat for Humanity. As of this year, Alternative Spring Break is adding a new local option to its programming: Living Local.
On the Living Local trip students will explore the topic of urban and rural homelessness in Northfield and Minneapolis. Students will work with the Northfield Union of Youth to learn about youth housing insecurity and housing insecurity in the Northfield community. In Minneapolis, students will have the opportunity to learn about urban housing insecurity through St. Stephen’s Human Services’ program “A Day in the Life,” a walking tour in which students will visit shelters and talk to people who have experienced homelessness.
Through this new local Alternative Spring Break, the CCCE hopes to further the conversation and action around housing and hopefully inspire more community engagement in the city of Northfield. “We realized there was a lapse of programming around affordable housing in CCCE,” says Kendall Clements, Program Assistant and Alternative Spring Break coordinator, “Housing is a need we don’t really talk about much in Northfield so we’re hoping to expose that a little more.”The main goal of the new program is education with the long-term goal that students can take something away from the program which could potentially make a difference.
Andrew Farias, who spent his winter break helping plan the program, says, “Through learning, students might create new programs, get inspired, directly help, etc. It’s an opportunity for students to hear about other programs or start one themselves.”
Alternative Spring Break is a great opportunity for students to foster community engagement and spend their vacation doing something unique. Thanks to the Julianne Williams Memorial Fund the trips are very affordable, with $100 covering everything. Additionally, full and partial financial aid is available for a limited number of participants.
For those interested in the program, information sessions will be held on January 14th at noon and 7:00 p.m. in LDC 104. Applications for trip leaders are due January 24th, and applications for trip participants are due January 30th.