Kentucky students focus on community development during Kings County visit

Wendy Elliott
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The four visiting students from Kentucky included, from left, Cassidy Cantrell, Jon Wicks, Jessica Barnes and Emory Jones. They spent two weeks in the area. 

While here in Kings County, Kentucky student Jon Wicks learned that community development is hard work and fresh Valley food is amazing.

Wicks was among four students visiting the area from the University of Kentucky who called Kings County home for a two-week period recently. The students partnered with local community groups and municipalities to work on community development initiatives.

Emory Jones said she found it empowering to meet young people here, especially among the African Nova Scotia and Mi’kmaw communities.

“They have such passion at such a young age,” she said.

Cassidy Cantrell, meanwhile, found out that sometimes you have to toss your own agenda out the window in order to learn holistically, while Jessica Barnes said she wished more communities would continue to strive for inclusion like Kings County does.

The students used the Kings County Action Plan to End Racism and Discrimination and worked with Horizons Community Development consultant Cari Patterson to get an insight into the community.

The trip also fostered a relationship between

University of Kentucky, which has a program in

community and leadership development, and the community development program at

Acadia University.

The four looked at barriers for marginalized groups, including LBGTQ youth. They recommended initiatives like a leadership program, social entrepreneurship awards and even greater inclusivity.

“We could see a clear connection between the work these students are doing and the (Kings County) Action Plan,” said Patterson.

Warden Diana Brothers said the visit “will help drive the future work of the action plan with ways to better engage specific communities.”

Patterson added that the partnerships involved were exciting, while Wicks felt the perspective he gained on building relationships was awesome.

A community celebration was held at the Wolfville Farmer’s Market where they students presented their findings before departing.

Organizations: University of Kentucky, African Nova Scotia, Kings County Action Plan Horizons Community Development Acadia University

Geographic location: Kings, Kentucky

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