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Sept. 6, 2018

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Three Youth Leaders on Board (YLOB) students at Wilfrid Laurier University are bursting with pride and colour – not only purple and gold, but all colours – for the Brantford Burst colour walk/run Sept. 9.

The second annual five-kilometre fun run is set for 11 a.m., starting and finishing at the Earl Haig Family Fun Park. The event raises money for Seniors and Kids Intergenerational Programs (SKIP), an organization that brings together students of all ages with long-term care and retirement home seniors. 

Laurier students Abigail Ajvaz, Melanie Gigliotti and Aminah Syed were participants in the YLOB program that matched them with SKIP. The YLOB program is a Brantford campus initiative that pairs students with non-profit boards in Brantford, Brant County and surrounding areas. Following a workshop to learn the roles and responsibilities of a board member, students spend one year as a student member on a board of directors.

Connecting Students with the Community

SKIP founder and director Liz Martorano sees the YLOB program as an excellent fit for SKIP’s board.

“The students worked well with the community,” said Martorano. “They weren't afraid to get dirty when it came down to not only sitting on the board, but also learning that they can really make an impact with the simplest things.”

Ajvaz, a fourth-year social work student, was matched with SKIP when she joined the YLOB program in her first year. After the year was up, she joined SKIP as a summer student and developed the Brantford Burst event.

“It had started as a way to connect to the Laurier community when I started university,” said Ajvaz. “I'm pretty aware of how important boards are, especially with non-profit; you can see how much they can impact communities. I think having a younger voice on the boards is important.”

Gigliotti, a fourth-year Criminology and Psychology student, joined YLOB on a whim in her second year and was matched with SKIP.

She explained that in her first year she did not get involved on campus, mostly because she didn’t know how. After finding YLOB, it allowed Gigliotti to have a unique volunteer experience that she enjoyed, all while gaining important transferrable skills. Now, she volunteers at four different organizations.

“I just really like getting involved, and I didn't before, so I think that's something that's changed with SKIP because SKIP opened opportunities for me,” she said.

As a first-year Business Technology Management student, Aminah Syed, now in her second year, thought joining the YLOB program would be a great addition to her resumé. She also stayed on with SKIP as a summer student after the board placement.

Syed said she invested in her experience at SKIP “because it bridges the intergenerational gap in communities and I found out through SKIP how important that is.”

All three students encourage other students to participate in the year-long placement.

“It gave me a lot of confidence,” said Syed.

“I really enjoyed SKIP, I think it's been a really humbling experience,” added Ajvaz.

To find out more about SKIP and Brantford Burst visit


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