Well being and education were the focus of the different activities this weekend that families in the community participated in, assisted by university volunteers who walked around wearing Ball State shirts and bright red clipboards printed with the words “I can help!”
At its second annual Community Campus Experience, Ball State along with the Boys and Girls Club, Second Harvest Food Bank, the National Guard and many other contributors gathered Saturday at Heekin Park to provide a free event for the Muncie community.
“There was once a narrative that Ball State didn’t want to be apart of the community which has not been true at all … ” said Paris McCurdy, director of community diversity initiatives about what the event meant for the campus and community relationship.
Melinda Messineo, professor of sociology who was part of the event’s planning committee, said the event ties in with Ball State’s “Better Together” campaign.
“What better way to demonstrate our commitment to the community than bringing the event out to the community,” Messineo said.
McCurdy said their first community event held on campus at Ball State was a success among faculty, staff, and community members.
When the staff of the Office of Inclusive Excellence came together again to plan this year’s event, they collectively decided to move the event into the community and Heekin Park was a good central location, McCurdy said.
Sgt. Carl Simmons from the National Guard and other members of the military said they were serious about helping Ball State out.
“We just wanted to show people that we’re here, we’re available for high school students, for college students, and the civilians that are here,” Simmons said.
Cher’Reese Anderson, wife of John Anderson, assistant lecturer of sociology, said she enjoyed the event and the activities offered.
“I loved the food giveaway which is very needed for the community and I like that it was fruit," Cher’Reese said about Second Harvest Food Bank’s station.
She also liked Boys in Girls Club’s station providing both free hearing tests and records for families to keep.
“I really liked coming in here, being tested and seeing how my hearing was,” she said.
Eddy Chappell, who lives in the Heekin Park neighborhood, brought his grandson out to take advantage of the activities.
“It can be very worthwhile if they utilize it. But I don’t think a lot of people are out here. I don’t see too many of my neighbors out here,” Chappel said. “They should be out here, because these are the things they need to get involved with.”
Qiana Clemens, Boys and Girls Club of Muncie’s chief operating officer, said the impact of the event was two fold: bring Ball State out to the community and show what the university had to offer.
“A lot of our students and population here on this side of town may have an aversion or may even be afraid to go on a college campus if they have not been on campus,” Clemens said. “So, it’s important to be able to bring those experiences to the community, and not always have the community go to the campus.”
McCurdy said the Office of Inclusive Excellence hopes to have a wider reach in the Muncie community by organizing more events in local parks.
Cher’Reese Anderson said there is support for events like these in the community.
“If [we] just look around and hear the buzz … you’d be surprised the support we have in the community,” she said.