Alternative Breaks Restart In-Person Trips

The student-led Alternative Breaks program is back in person this year.  


The program is looking for students who want to connect to the Baldwin Wallace community while helping other communities in need. It provides students with the opportunity, during school breaks, to travel, get involved in student leadership opportunities, see social justice topics in other parts of the country and bring back those experiences to Baldwin Wallace. 


Alternative Breaks, a program founded by Break Away, the national Alternative Breaks association for colleges and universities, in 1991, is a student-focused national effort towards positive change and volunteerism across colleges in America.  


Director of the David & Frances Brain Center for Community Engagement, Christy Walkuski, organizes the Alternative Break trips for Baldwin Wallace alongside Student Director Sara Carter and their higher education intern, Cassidy Wagner, a BW masters student. 


“I led a virtual trip last fall, after attending Alternative Break trips since freshman year,” Carter said. “It was interesting, engaging, and I learned a lot from that valuable experience. I was inspired to get more involved by the program and play an active role in helping more communities.” 


The upcoming service opportunities, which will occur over the coming weekend and winter breaks, look to provide students opportunities to submerge themselves into new communities while focusing on one specific social justice issue. The trips are a non-traditional approach to school breaks for students interested in volunteering, social justice and challenging themselves. 


This semester, there are three upcoming break trips, Out of the Darkness: Suicide Prevention; Empowering Youth: Connecting in Community to Create Change, and Triumph and Trust Toward the Future.  


Although applications are no longer open for these programs this semester, there will be more opportunities next semester. 


The first upcoming trip: Out of the Darkness: Suicide Prevention will partner with The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to teach participants about suicide and participate in bonding activities, discussions, and the Out of the Darkness Cleveland Walk. 


One of the Winter Break trips – Empowering Youth: Connecting in Community to Create Change – will focus on offering opportunities to Latino youth, adults, immigrants, seasonal workers, and advocacy for local families. Students attending this trip will work with this community through educational programs and cultural connections.   


The other Winter Break trip – Triumph and Trust Toward the Future – will provide insights into policy impacting youth and social services. This trip will allow students to make in-person connections and work with community leaders, children, and young adults. 


“It is a great way to connect with new people, travel to a new location, and immerse yourself in a new community,” Walkuski said. 


Baldwin Wallace’s Alternative Break program has been nationally recognized, including winning the 2018 National Alternative Break Program of the year through Break Away. 


These breaks feature a mystery location to refocus applicants on the cause and social justice issue rather than the location.  


Some of the past trips have been visiting a San Antonio food bank, Working with Common Ground Relief in New Orleans, and a trip working on a Waco Texas farm with World Hunger Relief Inc.