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WSC Service-Learning Project Receives Award

 

Wayne State exercise science students received an award for their project, "Bike Rack/WSC Service Learning Project," at the annual Nebraska Lied Main Street Program awards ceremony Oct. 12 at the Minden Opera House.  Two Wayne projects were among 20 projects from 10 Nebraska communities honored at the 14th annual awards ceremony. 


The project was given the award of excellence for streetscape improvement under $50,000. Exercise science students taking PED 310: Leadership Development in fall 2006 were asked to develop the groundwork for a sustainable program to promote more biking in and around Wayne to improve health, environment and recreation. 


"It was a pleasure to make these awards recognizing the well-deserved efforts of community volunteers and the investment of  funds by building owners,'' said Main Street Director Elizabeth Chase. "The awards always encourage others to complete projects and help to make downtown a viable place to be.''


The Wayne State class was instrumental in gathering initial assessment data, evaluating various ideas and proposals, and establishing collaborative relationships with community partners. Students examined the 2005 Wayne Community Attitude Survey, which indicated a strongly positive attitude toward the walking trail, developed a survey for campus and community members to identify interest and obstacles for biking in Wayne, and surveyed area businesses and Wayne leadership for feedback and support.


City Administrator Lowell Johnson, Mayor Lois Shelton, and Main Street Wayne members worked with the students to coordinate the building of several old-fashioned bike racks for the downtown area. This project coincided with the Main Street renovations. Students wrote and were awarded a $500 sub-grant from Wayne State College - Midwest Consortium for Service Learning in Higher Education to contribute toward bike rack materials and promotional printing costs, and the city matched with labor to build the racks.


Most of the students in the class were either on their capstone internship semester, or had graduated by the time the bike racks were finished and installed. However, the next class of spring 2008 saw the project through to completion, and planned a promotional event as their contribution to the ongoing project. These students held a family benefit to collect shoes for disaster relief and other needs. This benefit, "Soles on Wheels" involved bringing a pair of gently used athletic shoes, $1 to cover shipping, a bike and enthusiasm for exploring the Wayne walking-biking trail. Approximately 50 pairs of shoes were collected and donated to Soles 4 Souls.


"It is an honor to receive this wonderful recognition," said Dr. Barbara J. Engebretsen, associate professor of health, human performance and sports at Wayne State. "The students from fall 2006 still ask about their bike racks, and were so happy to hear they were up. Many have returned to Wayne to see them. The students of spring 2008 had the great satisfaction of seeing the project take wings. We extend sincere thanks to the many people in Wayne who have embraced the students and this project. Especially, we thank Lowell Johnson, Lois Shelton, and the Main Street Wayne members for their enthusiastic support of these efforts. We do look forward to continued collaboration as we work together to encourage biking in Wayne for health, recreation and the environment."

 

Service-Learning grants at WSC are part of a grant from the Midwest Consortium for Service-Learning in Higher Education (MCSLHE) made possible through the Corporation for National Service under the Learn and Serve America: Higher Education grant program.

 

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