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      Getting Engaged

      Class of 2020 Participates in Fourth Annual Day of Service and Placemaking Workshops

      placemaking in Chester

      Day of Service

      As part of a creative placemaking activity, members of the Widener University Class of 2020 make a colorful hopscotch on the sidewalk in downtown Chester.

      About 250 members of the Class of 2020 participated in the fourth annual day of service on Aug. 25, during which they not only assisted with volunteer activities throughout the city of Chester, but also received an introduction to the concept of creative placemaking.

      “Creative placemaking is an unfamiliar term for many, but it is just what it sounds like—utilizing arts and arts methodologies to strengthen community and place.  We find that it is often easier to show people than to try to tell them what it is. When we finished the morning’s projects, one student said, ‘Oh, I get it—it’s about taking what you have and making something new!’ New relationships are built when people make things together,” said Sharon Meagher, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

      Meagher and Devon Walls, artist and proprietor of The Artist Warehouse in Chester and artist in residence at Widener, kicked off the creative placemaking activities by introducing the students to the main goals of the Boundaries and Bridges initiative: to strengthen and support arts collaboration in the city of Chester with an aim to bridge boundaries between Widener and the city of Chester and drive downtown revitalization. Walls and Meagher encouraged the students to remain engaged with the Chester community, not only through service, but also by participating in and supporting the arts and local businesses.

      The students broke into eight groups to explore different activities from dance and poetry to even Solo cup art. They later assisted with various community service activities throughout Chester. Some students helped set up for the Aug. 27 One Day in Chester arts festival, while others helped organize book bags at CityTeam Ministries for distribution to the city’s youth.

      “We wanted to provide students with a holistic learning experience,” said Gretchen Mielke, assistant dean of Civic Engagement. “We hope that this day is just the beginning of their journey in becoming engaged citizens of the world and active members of the local community.”

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