Third annual UWO Free School prommotes the importance of sustainability

Ryan Taylor, News Writer

The Student Environmental Action Coalition provided students and community members more information about sustainability after it hosted its Free School event for the third year in a row on Saturday, March 10.

Last year, SEAC hosted about 50 courses, but each offering had relatively low attendance. This year it reduced the number of courses so attendance would be more concentrated.

UWO environmental studies major Natalie Kostman is part of SEAC and helped run the event this year.

Kostman said the program’s courses offer a commitment to a more sustainable future.

“We work in all realms of sustainability,” Kostman said. “So we work to help with the University commitment to sustainability through environmental stewardship, community building and economic sustainability. So we like to offer classes all around those different things.”

Many classes were offered, including Disability Awareness, Taekwondo, Introduction to Islam and Home Water Treatment.

Adam Bellcorelli has volunteered to teach the Disability Awareness course for the past three years at the Free School event. He is a community employment specialist and former geography and urban planning office manager at UWO.

“With Free School, I have always loved the idea,” Bellcorelli said.

This year the class showed people what life on campus is like in a wheelchair. The class participants were each able to use a wheelchair both in and outside Sage Hall.

During class, students were able to see what it was like to maneuver through doorways and use the elevators. They were able to go outside where they could see how varied the ground is to give people a better understanding of what it is like to use a wheelchair in various situations.

Bellcorelli said he used to do a similar program in Reeve Memorial Union for the Diversity and Leadership conference before the Free School program existed.

“I said, ‘Oh, I can dust this off and we’re going to be over in Sage, so it’ll be our new area, and try and get more students checking out the chairs and how to get around,’” Bellcorelli said. “The campus that they know, or they think they know and what it looks like, just changing that perspective just a little bit.”

Allison Garner’s People Problems course, focused on dealing with interpersonal issues involved with learning how to adjust from a negative mindset to a positive one by changing how a situation is perceived.

Garner is a certified and credentialed professional coach and founder of Align Coaching, LLC. Before beginning a professional coaching career, she was a chemical engineering consultant and vice president of an engineering firm.

“So the class was about how to stop dreading people problems, and I basically gave five different tools that are immediately applicable that you can use any time, anywhere and with anyone,” Garner said.

Garner said the appeal of the class was being able to work with people who have a common goal.

“I love to get into a group with like-minded individuals, and so really the people that are here are the kind of people that go to Free School,” Garner said. “So you end up with all these people with similar mindsets, growth mindsets, and you get that many people into a single location and I think wonderful things happen.”

Approximately 100 people came to the Free School event this year and SEAC plans on hosting this event again next year.