Radford ‘radCREATES’ service learning during lockdown
Posted: 01 June 2020
Service learning and creative arts
- Communication skills
- Problem solving
Service in COVID-19 times is not without its challenges, with most of our programs based on building relationships and walking alongside others in proximity. That said, the challenges of engaging in meaningful service at a distance is one a lot of students have taken up enthusiastically.
The Service-Learning team at Radford College launched a Virtual Rad Greeting Card service (radCREATES) for people, communities and organisations we have an existing relationship with. The aim is to hopefully extend beyond these borders. The idea is for us all to remain meaningfully creative, while harnessing that magic way that art – as well as a simple, positive outreach – can improve and enhance the day, if not lives, of others.
Under the theme of ‘radREACHESout’, any ELC, Junior or Secondary School student or staff member can submit an original piece of ‘art’ (usually a scan or carefully taken photo of the work), poetry or music in jpeg or MP3 format which is then forwarded onto those in need as a e-card, along with a message of support and solidarity on behalf of our Radford Community.
All the e-cards are displayed on the radCREATES website (www.radcreates.wordpress.com, password: inthistogether) with the aim to eventually create a megaARTwork which we hope will, once more, raise spirits in solidarity as a collective statement when we eventually do emerge together from this unsettled time. We hope that such a visibly growing body of work will similarly serve as an inspiring example of the power of community for others.
I would encourage students to use this opportunity to engage in service in perhaps the hardest of places: your own home. At a time when the world appears to be asking for us to become absorbed in screens and inward-looking activity, extending patience and kindness not only to a stranger but also to the people we live alongside, is perhaps the greatest challenge we can presently undertake. The rewards are self-evident.
The radCREATES project has, itself, served as hub for such activity, largely utilising the creative arts as a springboard for service endeavour. As the site’s homepage displays, the whole of the Radford Community can engage with its central agenda: the production of eCards for the lonely, the needy, local heroes/workers, partner organisations, staff (past and present), collegians or simply anyone in need of a pick-up.
A quick scroll through the Letters section will reveal just how much receiving a card and artwork can alter a stranger’s day and mood. As a recipient recently wrote: “What a kind, generous, thoughtful thing to do… This has brought tears to my eyes today and made my heart swell with gratitude & love! I appreciate this more than you know!”
The eCards are also a unique activity in our school history, where students from the ELC through to Year 12, staff, collegians and parents have all contributed, in unified outreach. For some, artistic response comes easily, for others it can be quite a challenge. But perhaps, in this instance, the integrity at the heart of any card’s creation certainly shines through. And for students, particularly older ones missing their regular volunteering opportunities due to social distancing, the cards have been used as a mechanism to communicate care to their pals at Black Mountain School, the rangers at ACT Parkcare, students and staff in Gamilaraay Country, and fellow participants at RAID Basketball (Recreational Activity for people with an Intellectual Disability), to name but a few.
Under the radCREATES arm, students wishing to pursue interests in Indigenous issues and relationships, can think about contributing original songs, stories, essays, poetry and visual art to the Thoughts’n’Dreams competition, run by The Friends of Myall Creek, an organisation the college has developed a close relationship with over the years. It is hoped some subject areas, even year groups, may take the opportunity of combining curriculum with cocurricular for this competition, in which we have had previous success. For students in Years 10 through to 12 missing out on representing the school at the Appin and Myall Creek Commemorations and the winter G-Trips, this can surely serve as a powerful substitute for raising awareness and contributing their ideas, voice, empathy and art in solidarity with our First People. The 2020 theme is “Truth Telling”.
Lastly, we are hoping to continue with the tradition of L’Arche Discos for Year 11, again with students contributing their dance moves and effervescence, albeit virtually. We are aiming to prepare a clip with 70s-themed (and costumed!) contributions coming in from Year 11, and hopefully members of the wider L’Arche community. This will then be played at the time of the Disco on Saturday May 16, once more in an act of solidarity with the disabilities community, and despite the restrictions of gatherings of this kind.