As thousands of college and university students across Waterloo Region prepare for a new school year, some are looking for volunteer opportunities to enhance their academic experience and fulfill course requirements.

Fourth year Psychology student at Wilfrid Laurier University, Brittany Beynon, found herself in this position last year. Soon she discovered volunteer placement opportunities offered by Community Support Connections.

Beynon signed up to gain experience with seniors while fulfilling a course requirement in the developmental psychology branch.

“I’ve always been an active person so when I saw that I could come do exercise classes, I was like yes, that’s me one hundred percent,” said Beynon.

Twice a week, Beynon volunteered with CSC’s SMART™ exercise program where she worked alongside another Gentle Exercise Instructor providing participants with one-on-one assistance, guiding movements, and ensuring proper technique.

“I think it’s really helped me from my psychology education standpoint to get the full developmental experience with different types of people,” said Beynon. “I would definitely recommend it for the future and it’s definitely something I would consider myself.”

Community Support Connections works with local universities and colleges to provide students like Beynon hands-on experience, and hopes more students will see the benefits of giving back to their community while pursuing their education.

For class participants like Ron, exercise is crucial to maintaining a quality of life and he attributes regular activity to living longer.

“These classes are great for day to day life. They really improve the quality of life as you get older. I’m 89 years old now, and I wouldn’t be without these programs”.

He also enjoys the extra support offered by students.

“Having an assistant in the class is great for us as we don’t always have the correct form, and this young lady or young man could come around and correct us gently.”

Students receive the same training as other volunteers and acquire new skill sets they can easily add to their resume. Beynon encourages new students to reach out to their local community and get involved, and to consider gaining experience at Community Support Connections.

“The employees and volunteers are honestly the greatest. They care so much about their fellow employees, other volunteers, and especially their clients.”

Community Support Connections offers a variety of volunteer placement opportunities, including one-on-one and group exercise. The positions are flexible and can be short term or ongoing. To learn more about getting involved, please call 519-772-8787 or visit cscmow.org.