More Than a Group Project: Coming Together for Social Change

Bachelor of Arts Community Studies students at Cape Breton University have been working on a project to spread awareness about social isolation, which impacts individuals around the world. Connie Decoffe, Liam Flannigan, Kate Sleva and Alison Thompson have created an interactive project as part of their group assignment for the Community Studies course, Community Action Project. These students, located across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, have done an exceptional job bringing mindfulness and depth to the topic.

Social Isolation can occur when having little contact with others for lengthy periods, experiencing detachment from social networks or feeling a decreased sense of community belonging. The topic was one of interest to the entire group. “Each of our group members has either experienced social isolation or loneliness first hand or have people in our lives who have. It’s a situation that does not discriminate and it’s more predominant in society than many people realize,” says Kate.

The online gallery exhibition, titled “Can You See Me Now?” includes stories, information and images displaying various factors that can lead to social isolation. These factors include, but are not limited to, the transition of living away at university, the separation of families working bi-provincially, the loneliness of aging and the feeling of exclusion that can be triggered by poverty.

To ensure authenticity, each of the group members partnered with individuals in their local communities who have either experienced social isolation, or work toward spreading awareness about social isolation through community activism. After their stories were collected, the students developed an online gallery to share them with the public.

The project strives to bring awareness to the issue of social isolation and give a voice to those who struggle on a daily basis. “We hope that viewers gain a deeper understanding for how social isolation impacts society, a sensitivity towards those who are enduring social isolation and for those who are in need, the strength to reach out to some of the resources provided,” says Kate.

In addition to the online project, these dedicated CBU students have been reaching out to local politicians to advocate for change and programing that addresses social isolation and loneliness in their communities.

All the members involved in this group project look forward to graduating from the Bachelor of Community Studies (BACS) program in the Spring of 2019. The group members plan to continue their education through graduate studies in the areas of Counselling Psychology and Social Work.

To learn more about social isolation and check out the interesting work being done by CBU students, visit “Can You See Me Now” at  http://www.cysmn.tk/