Volunteers needed for refugee children summer program

By Costa Maragos Posted: May 18, 2017 6:00 a.m.

Up to 30 children took part in the weekly fun-filled days of activities in 2016. The program was successful thanks to volunteers from within and outside the campus community.
Up to 30 children took part in the weekly fun-filled days of activities in 2016. The program was successful thanks to volunteers from within and outside the campus community. Photo - External Relations

The campus will once again be teeming with dozens of young children of refugee families this summer.

For the second year in a row, the Faculty of Social Work, in collaboration with the Regina Open Door Society, is hosting a settlement program for refugee children and youth from Regina’s Arabic-speaking community.

Organizers say they need more volunteers.

“We did this last summer as a pilot project and we received a great response from our students, from the campus community and from the community at large,” says Dr. Miguel Sanchez, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Social Work and one of the program supervisors.

Refugee Program
The children have fun at indoor and outdoor activities. Photo - External Relations

About 30 children took part in the program in 2016.

This year, the program will run each Saturday from June 3 to August 18 (except long weekends). Volunteers are needed to help with various aspects of the program.

“Related experience is not required, but the ability to speak Arabic is definitely an asset,” says Sanchez.

The program offers a fun environment with the goal of easing the stress of resettlement that many refugee children experience. The activities include arts and crafts, movies, reading and literacy, computer games, music, dance and outdoor sports. The activities are geared for children in the 6 to 12 age group.

Most of the activities are organized by Bachelor of Social Work students who work under the supervision of a field instructor and faculty members

“This program allows our students to gain practical experience in community work with the refugee population,” says Sanchez. “This will serve them well when given the opportunity to work with vulnerable populations in the future.”  

Refugee Program Volunteers
Bachelor of Social Work students assist with developing the programming, under faculty supervision. Photo - External Relations


Sanchez is quick to point out that the success of this program depends on volunteers.

“We relied heavily on more than 50 people who volunteered their time to be with us each Saturday. A significant number of our volunteers were Arabic-speaking, most of whom were international students here at the U of R,” says Sanchez. “The volunteers helped tremendously with overcoming language barriers, understanding cultural norms and generally making the children and their parents feel at ease.”

If you are interested in volunteering or have questions please contact Irene Barnes at the Faculty of Social Work. She can be contacted at bankam2i@uregina.ca or call (306) 585-4866.

“We are also grateful for the support we received from the Faculty of Education, the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies as well as from the larger University community, as many faculty, staff and students contacted us to offer their help,” says Sanchez.