Spring break season means a plethora of college students are hitting the beaches and partying in warm weather as they celebrate a week away from studies. For one group of Howard University students, however, they took off to Ferguson to continue their valuable lessons outside the classroom.
It’s a part of a week-long mid-semester program that allows the students to find unique opportunities to give back to certain communities.
This year’s Alternative Spring Break program took the students to Ferguson, Missouri, the town where unarmed teen Michael Brown was gunned down by officer Darren Wilson.
Ashton Ragsdale and Sable Givens, two students from Howard, told HuffPost Live that they felt like it was their “obligation” to spend their time helping “underserved communities,” especially as college students.
“It’s very important for us to be in those spaces that people wouldn’t go to, make those connections, and just be in those classrooms and listen to the students of the community…make them understand that we are here for them,” Ragsdale said.
The group of students teamed up with several participating organizations, businesses and other institutions in the city to help them kick off the necessary changes that the community so desperately needs.
“We go in as a helping hand,” Givens said. “We’re not trying to ‘fix’ anybody.”
Both of the students said that the community has been extremely welcoming and supportive of the students’ efforts to make a difference.
Many of the students have shared their positive experiences helping out in Ferguson, but for these two students the trip was particularly rewarding.
Both Givens and Ragsdale are from St. Louis and say their city was “crying out for help.”
With more people from across the country getting more involved in making changes in Ferguson, the city is getting a much-needed jolt of hope as the community begins trying to reshape its government and police forces.