The College of Education’s National Advisory Council and its Internal Relations Committee this week announced the winners of the 2015 Service Learning Grants. The grants are for $500 each. Mrs. Susan Housel, a long-time NAC member, is the committee chair.

One grant went to Lee Ann Alderman, Ph.D., and will be closely related to her Psychosocial Aspects of Disability course (RSED 5020), which is part of the Rehabilitation and Disabilities Studies program. The project itself allows students from the class to select aspects of disability studies to research. Students will research their overall topic to develop materials to present at a Disability Awareness Day in spring semester 2016. Each student group will create a brochure and posters to present on the main floor of Haley Center. The materials will be presented to students, staff, faculty, and others walking through Haley Center on the awareness day. Each group will discuss their topic, provide their brochures, and engage the university community in discussion regarding issues related to disability awareness.

The second grant went to Stephen Powell, a graduate student in the Department of Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology. His award will help create the Southview Special Needs Sensory Garden in Opelika. Southview Primary School’s special needs population is made up of approximately 20 students. These students’ needs range from physical disabilities to cognitive disabilities to behavioral disabilities. Located ten minutes from Auburn University, Southview has the distinct privilege of hosting service learning volunteers from the school. These volunteers will be able to work with and assist the special needs students in the garden throughout the week. The students will learn basic agricultural tenets like the parts of a plant and what plants need to survive. The students will also get first-hand experience planting, cultivating, and harvesting the plants. The garden will be located in a school courtyard on campus. The sensory garden will incorporate Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) tactics. TBRI is a method of intervention that empowers children in order to address their physical needs, connects children socially to others in order to address their attachment needs, and corrects behavioral issues children face by neutralizing fear-based behaviors.

Thanks to the NAC for supporting these projects, and congratulations to Lee Ann and Stephen for their efforts to support disability awareness and intervention.