The Cayuga Community College Criminal Justice (CJ) Club hosted a Halloween costume party for 20 children from Booker T. Washington Community Center in Auburn on October 27.
The CJ Club members welcomed the mostly second- and third-graders with Halloween-themed decorations and activities, including a mummy-wrapping contest. The children enjoyed coloring and some arts and crafts projects, and were treated to some cider and donuts during the party.
"I think the children really enjoyed it," said Criminal Justice Professor and CJ Club Advisor Teri Misiaszek. "And I think the college students enjoyed it as well."
For the Cayuga criminal justice students, the party connected classroom discussions about delinquency prevention programs and school budget cuts to children in their own community and a chance to make a difference.
"The CJ students decided to work on this project not only as an extension of their current CJ courses and for community outreach, but also to provide positive role models of all economic, race, age, and gender backgrounds," Misiaszek said. "Our club members represent a broad range of ethnic and social backgrounds, and it is important for children to see that no matter who you are, you can be a successful college student and, if you choose, a criminal justice professional."
Organizers said the event was such a success that they expect to host a similar party again next year, and find other ways throughout the year to bring these students to the College campus.
"We are currently planning a 'Forensic Investigation' project, which will be a great way to introduce kids to criminal justice while teaching them something about science as well," said Savonne Crews, VISTA volunteer and coordinator for community outreach at Cayuga who helped organize the Halloween party with CJ Club members.
The event was part of the College's larger partnership with the community center. Initiated last year, the College recruits Cayuga students to volunteer as mentors for the young people in the after-school program.
"The Halloween party was one way among many through which the College can demonstrate how it is a useful resource to the center and the community," Crews said. "This is what we're working towards, creating a partnership and establishing sustainability."