Students at the University of Alberta recently got the chance to do some learning, outside of the classroom that is.
First-year students in the Faculty of Nursing went on what they called a Social Issues Walk in the inner city of Edmonton to have a first hand look at the issues surrounding poverty in the city.
The Social Issues Walk is a new initiative taken on by Mustard Seed Edmonton and the U of A Faculty of Nursing.
The Mustard Seed is an organization designed to provide relief and help to people dealing with poverty.
Leanne Janzen, manager of public education with Mustard Seed, explained that it started in January, with about two groups going for the walk per week. Their last walk took place April 8, which brought a total of 184 students taking part in the four-month period.
Vera Caine, assistant professor for the Faculty of Nursing, said she hopes nursing students who took part in the walk will learn something they won’t be able to pick up in a classroom.
“Poverty, we see almost anywhere in the city, so it’s not inclusive to the inner city, and our students will encounter people living in poverty throughout their careers as nurses,” Caine said. “So for us, it’s really important to give them the education early so that we hopefully, in the long run, encounter less judgment and stereotypes.”
Most of the students who were part of the final group on the Social Issue Walk admitted they’ve never spent time in the inner city prior, but the lessons they had learned that day would greatly benefit them in their career as nurses.
“It’s so important to have an understanding of where they are coming from and a different level of respect for them,” said Rachel Reinhart, a first-year nursing student. “It just opens your eyes and lets you understand that they are just like any other person that you will deal with, but they are just coming from a different background.” All though this it the first year of the initiative, both members of the Mustard Seed in Edmonton and Faculty of Nursing said they thought it was a success and hope to carry it on next semester.