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New UC Student Volunteer Army Head Undaunted By Task Ahead

New UC Student Volunteer Army Head Undaunted By Task Ahead in 2013

November 20, 2012

The new president of the University of Canterbury’s Student Volunteer Army (SVA) is undaunted about her task ahead for 2013.

UC law student Bridget Williams said the days of shovelling liquefaction were hopefully over for SVA students but a raft of community service projects were planned for next year.

Williams takes over from SVA founder Sam Johnson who was named the 2012 Young New Zealander of the Year. Using Facebook, Johnson rallied students onto the streets of Christchurch after February 22 to help with the earthquake clean-up and co-ordinate the army’s efforts.

The SVA was also awarded the Royal New Zealand RSA’s Anzac of the Year Award 2012. It is the first time the award was given to non-military personnel or to more than one person.

``We are no longer bound by earthquake related tasks as we are open to everything and anything that betters the community,’’ Williams said.

``An exciting prospect for the SVA is the introduction of platoons. These platoons will align students’ passions and skills with what is needed in the community.

``We will have a gardening platoon, which would be (hypothetically) made up of forestry students or anyone who is ``green-fingered” inspired. Their projects may include beautifying weed-ridden yards, mowing lawns or planting trees.

``We will have a baking platoon; made up of students who love to cook or bake and would provide meals for those in need via soup kitchens etc. These platoons would ultimately provide greater results for those being served for the students eager to help as the work connects with their interests.

``We want to capitalise on what students have learnt at university. We are considering collaborating with the university’s business and law faculties to give free legal or commerce advice.’’

Williams said this would benefit both parties as the public was in need of free counsel relating to earthquake issues and the students would grow with the experience. This could help future employment for students by building relationships and connections with the business community.’’

She said there were no excuses for not helping an individual or group when groups like the SVA had the capabilities. She said it was important for the SVA to be sustainable and to grow from the experiences of the last two years. It added richness to being a UC student.

``I wanted this particular role as I thrive on challenges and opportunities. SVA is a well-recognised organisation that has the potential to really make a difference so the possibilities are endless. This is just a huge privilege and an adventure that could change me for life.’’

Williams said the roles and responsibilities of the 2013 SVA committee were clearer and more structured and they wanted to continue focusing on service that contributed to all spheres of the community by helping anyway possible.

``Our goal is to empower students to be the change in their community and make service a student lifestyle. We hope to have some big events, one for each semester, but we want to give people as many opportunities throughout the year as possible so there will be continuing spontaneous service projects too.

``After all, we want students to take initiative to start their own projects, as a need for volunteering is not always planned, as the earthquake proved. We also want to capitalise on what students can bring to the SVA by matching a community service project with a student’s area of study.

``We also want to see SVA’s being implemented in other universities as I believe this is the year that can prove student service organisations can be sustainable, regardless of the need.’’


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