LEAPS organizers focus on the future

New leadership has sparked new ideas for next year’s university-wide community service project, LEAPS. LEAPS has been an annual event at the university since spring 2000, said Peter Thompson, assistant director for Student Development Services.

Kerri Westfield, LEAPS director, said the executive committee has plans to change the event to affect one smaller community within Fort Worth as opposed to sending students out to various parts of the community, as it has been in the past. She said the executive committee decided they wanted to try something new this year.

Westfield, a junior entrepreneurial management major, said the changes are to make a larger impact in one area so students and other volunteers will be able to see the effect of their work. Westfield said she started participating in LEAPS her freshman year, and last year was her first year on the executive committee.

Thompson said anything is possible this far in advance because there is a great group of students on the LEAPS executive committee. He said one of the goals of the new form of LEAPS is to get more students involved, as well as the community.

Westfield said members of the executive committee are traveling to Texas A&M University this weekend to attend a student-led conference.

“We are trying to enhance our program and we would like to have more input from different schools that have a larger program,” Westfield said. “We can learn more about their marketing and how they do all the logistics of their program.”

Kamran Malik, LEAPS logistical coordinator, said he and two other members from the executive committee are leaving Friday for A&M to learn more about community service as a whole and to get ideas from other universities.

LEAPS attendance has increased over the years, Thompson said, and last year’s project had the highest attendance of about 1,000 people.

“We are providing potentially a more meaningful experience for the community and for each student that goes out and gets involved,” Thompson said.

The LEAPS committee will meet with the city of Fort Worth in the next couple of weeks to decide on a specific area of the community to focus on for this fall’s community service day, Thompson said. One of their biggest goals is to have students participate in continued service so they can remain connected with the community as well as learn something while giving back.

Westfield said the committee will meet in the next couple of weeks to pick a date for LEAPS. She said it will be sometime in October.

Westfield said her goal for the 2007 LEAPS is to get the whole campus involved while traveling to one general location. She said that way, every student will be able to see the impact of their small assignment, along with the contribution of all the participants.

“We are working with other universities that do one day service programs and have been doing them longer than we have,” Westfield said, “We are learning stuff that they have done and making it more applicable to TCU. Ideally, each year, we are enhancing it.