Linking Community College and Elementary Schools Through Social Entrepreneurship
This session will focus on adding meaning to the educational experience of both elementary school and college students when improved health becomes a shared objective. Two cases will be presented and a discussion will center on using this information to encourage future collaborations between community colleges and elementary schools.
Community colleges have a shared mission of adding value to their own community while providing a valuable educational experience for their students. Parkland College researches community needs through town hall meetings, local media reports, and information provided by area businesses. A key concern identified is the poor state of physical health of elementary school children. This is evidenced by the institution of mandatory diabetes testing by the local school district for all students entering the 5th grade. In response, Parkland College provided opportunities in social entrepreneurship linking elementary schools and the college. Social entrepreneurship describes an approach that involves key individuals (or organizations) adopting innovative and flexible solutions to social problems that lead to change. Leadbeater (1997, p. 57)
Parkland College students in sports physiology and nutrition added value to the community through opportunities at local elementary schools. The sports physiology students implemented a 6 week exercise program for over 225 students using donated pedometers at Washington Elementary School. Donated food and prizes were available to provide incentives for the elementary students. Parkland nutrition students designed healthier school lunch offerings that met government guidelines for cost, preparation time, nutrition and acceptance. As a result of these projects, the local school district is pursuing more opportunities to engage in social entrepreneurship with Parkland College.
Learning objectives, implementation strategies, outcomes, and SWOTs from the projects will be presented. An active discussion on how to use this information when linking the community college and elementary schools will follow.