ACU students finished up their year at CitySquare with a celebration of their work with Design For Change inner city students Saturday in Dallas.
Over the last year, sophomores Alan Songer, criminal justice and Spanish major from Tomball; Bethany Richardson, social work major from Nacogdoches; Molly Clemans, marketing and ad/PR major from Melissa; and Nicole Ramos, vocational missions major from Imperial, California, have immersed themselves in the culture of Dallas. Part of the ACU at CitySquare initiative, Songer, Richardoson, Clemans and Ramos are members of the Justice and Urban Studies team. They have worked with Design For Change, a project-based learning program at four different schools in the South Dallas area. They have taken over 200 elementary students through the program and worked on numerous projects with the kids and this weekend, they took time to honor their students’ work.
“We wanted to tell the kids that what they did this semester meant something and that they accomplished something,” Clemans said.
Over the course of the semester, DFC students have been looking at issues in their communities, imagining solutions, and actually putting their ideas into action. The student projects ranged from addressing sexual violence in their communities, shutting down a trap house, and hosting neighborhood events to bring people together.
Saturday’s celebration at Juanita Craft Park and Recreation Center in Dallas honored what the DFC students accomplished this year. Between 200-300 guests attended the “Be The Change” celebration. 13 different student groups and their projects were showcased at the event. Parents, teachers, and even a few Olympic athletes dropped in Saturday to encourage the kids in their work.
After a semester of pouring into the students, Songer and his teammates were blown away by what was accomplished.
“It really just amazed us how much the kids did,” Songer said. “We came in with high hopes but we realized they were elementary kids who had never done a program like this. The way they grew into it exceeded what we hoped for in their passions.”
The celebration was ACU students last work of their year spent in Dallas. Songer, Richardson, Clemans and Ramos said there is a bitter sweetness to being done with their Design For Change.
“It’s over now, it’s done, it’s finished,” Richardson said. “But it hasn’t really hit us yet.”
Songer expressed similar sentiments as well.
“The connection that we built with these kids over a whole semester isn’t a kind of relationship that you just cut off and it be okay,” Songer said. “It’s really sad but it is also nice to have accomplished something.”
The celebration was, as Clemans said, “the perfect way to end this full year of being in Dallas.”
“We worked so hard both of these semesters,” Clemans said. “To have as much fun as kids at this party was so so worth it.”
As the year comes to an end, the first installment will transition back to being on campus in Abilene. Their work will continue through the the upcoming JUST team of current freshman beginning in June.