The Warrior Star Initiative (WSI) is a partnership program between Opportunity Knocks and the Dominican University Psychology and Nutrition Departments which launched in Fall 2017 and was based on a program run through our friends at the Trinity Volunteer Corps. Together, DU interns and OK Warriors perform a variety of campus and community jobs, attend DU events, and develop friendships. WSI provides the opportunity for Warriors to engage with a local college community, while also aiming to provide valuable vocational experiences and social skill development for Warriors and interns alike.
Spring 2018 marked our second full semester of programming on the DU campus. This semester we continued to develop and expand the program, serving more Warriors for more hours as well as adding more interns and new jobs, events, and activities. Check out some of the highlights below!
DU Psychology Interns and Warriors rotated through a variety of on-campus job sites including:
- Cafeteria (dish room, wiping tables),
- Archive Office (scanning and saving historical documents into CPU for DU archives),
- Library (cleaning, dusting, and organizing books and bookshelves),
- HeadStart Nutrition (preparing “parent packs” and lesson plans for them to take into local schools for nutrition education), and the
- Cyber Cafe (preparing and packaging fruit cups and pasta bowls).
Warriors and interns participated in several campus community events and activities to build our presence at DU, develop new relationships, and have fun:
- Disability Awareness Month Events with DU Disability Support Services in March
- Campus Accessibility Walk
- Disability Panel and Discussion
- Disability Film Screening and Discussion
- BINGO Days with Office of Student Involvement
- DU Special Olympics Basketball Day with DU Athletics
- Yoga Class with DU Athletics
- Ice Cream Social with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- DU Talent Show Auditions with the Black World Studies Academic Club
- Therapy Dog Visits with the Office of Student Involvement
- Mock Experiment with DU Psychology Club
- DU Greenhouse Open House with SustainDU
- Making Sandwiches for the homeless with Campus Ministry
- Free tamales with the Organization of Latin American Students
GROUP ACTIVITIES & OUTINGS
In addition to the vocational experiences and campus events, Warrior Stars also engaged in a variety of group activities including intern-led crafts and scavenger hunts, personal profile binders, outing to Pilsen with OK Life Shop, lacrosse game with Life Shop and Concordia University Women’s Lacrosse, and end of semester celebration at Junction Diner and Trailside Museum.
In the fall, our DU Nutrition intern came into the OK Life Shop for weekly nutrition activities with 5 Warriors. Each week, she would lead a nutrition lesson alongside a Warrior, then plan for the next week with a new Warrior.
This spring, we tried out some new nutrition endeavors. During the first part of the semester, our intern and Warriors took their nutrition lessons to another local disability service agency, Aspire, and led activities with their participants. During the ladder half of the semester we participated in the Dominican University Recipe Box program and helped DU nutrition students and faculty prepare special, nutritious 3-course lunches for students and community members at the DU campus. We had a great time this semester working with Aspire and DU Nutrition!
WARRIOR STAR TESTIMONIALS
“People without disabilities are able to realize how much they have in common with people with disabilities. It continues to break down the walls of exclusion and foster a reality where we live in a world that values inclusion.” – Carolyn Effgen, Warrior parent
“The Warrior Stars acquire new skills and make a meaningful contribution to our historical projects. The McGreal Center staff wins because it allows the staff to do other projects. We all win because we learn from each other and make new friends too!” – Sister Janet Welsh, OP, The McGreal Center for Dominican Historical Studies
“Psychology students benefit in so many ways from the Warrior-Star Project: They get involved in campus, they build meaningful relationships, they develop professional and clinical skills. It’s a pleasure and privilege to be a part of this initiative.” – Tina Taylor-Ritzler, psychology professor
“The program means spreading disability awareness and it also provides me friendship.” – Amanda Ebersole, Warrior
“Opportunity Knocks will stand its post and will win. After this semester things will be different and will boost the confidence and self esteem levels… I’m really proud of how this semester has been so far.” – Derek Withers, Warrior
“Warrior Star is very important to our program because we get to work with an incredible population, who is curious about information we can teach! [I have learned] the Warriors are fully capable of much more than people think and should be treated like any other person.” – Victoria Hoffman, nutrition intern
For more info on the Warrior Star Initiative, please contact program director Dan Scherer-Emunds: firstname.lastname@example.org