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Social work class allows IUPUI students to help apartment residents

Social work student painting a face
Social work student painting a face View print-quality image

Published:

December 11, 2012

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For two hours on a recent Friday, students from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis offered the residents of a low-income housing complex on Indianapolis’ far east side something priceless: a chance to smile and laugh.

The Fall Fun Fest at Orleans Apartments was the latest effort by students in the IU School of Social Work’s Introduction to Case Management class to reach out to the residents.

It is the second year students in the semester-long class, taught by Erika Galyean, operated a resource center at the apartment complex called Helping Hands. The students experience first hand what it is like to help people, and the residents received assistance without having to leave the apartment grounds. The students research the types of assistance available for residents who come to their center twice a week and learn the ins and outs of case management.

Students pick a special project to conduct during the semester, in addition to their regular work with the residents. This class built this semester’s event around the theme of fun.

A line had already formed by the time the students opened the doors to their center for the Fall Fun Fest. Once inside, the residents enjoyed snacks, picked out winter coats students had collected, had their picture taken, had their faces painted, or played bingo. Everything was provided by the students.

The class is made up of a mix of students, some of whom are in or applying to the Bachelor of Social Work program and others who are interested in exploring what case management or social work is all about. As she did last year, Galyean oversaw students’ efforts but left it up to the students to decide how to run the center.

“They see if they like case management or if they don’t, which is just as important,” Galyean said of the students’ involvement at the center, which began as an initiative she developed through a RISE Grant.

Jason Evans, a psychology major set to graduate this spring, said he wished every department was as hands-on as the School of Social Work. “That’s why I like the social work because you get to apply what you learn in class. It makes you look from a different perspective at what other people are going through,” he said.