JMU Alternative Break Program is No. 1 in Nation

From: Public Affairs

For the second time in its history, James Madison University’s Alternative Break Program is the Break Away National Program of the Year. This year’s award recognizes the university’s commitment to active citizenship.

“This is evident in their outreach to other alternative break programs, partnering with offices and departments within their campus, work within the Harrisonburg community and practices promoting active citizenship as attainable in each participant’s life,” said the Break Away Board of Directors.

Break Away, a national nonprofit organization that supports the development of quality alternative break programs by providing training and information to colleges and nonprofit organizations interested in creating lifelong active citizens, also recognized the JMU program in 1999. That was just seven years after the university began its Alternative Break Program with a Spring Break relief trip to Homestead, Fla., to aid victims of Hurricane Andrew.

From the first Alternative Spring Break in 1992, which drew 50 students and two staff leaders, the JMU program has grown to encompass alternative break trips at Thanksgiving, Spring Break and May Break. A total of 569 participants joined 45 alternative break teams in the 2009-10 academic year – five at Thanksgiving, 39 at Spring Break and one large Hurricane Katrina Relief at May Break that drew 56 participants.

“Students that participated in our program believe in their ability to be active citizens by taking small steps to make the world a better place for everyone,” said Dusty M. Krikau, assistant director of Community Service-Learning at JMU, the professional staff member who works directly with the Alternative Break Program. “By reaching out to new majors and new audiences, we have helped students to realize how active citizenship can play a part in their lives and help them to achieve all varieties of life goals.”

JMU’s program ranks No. 2 nationally in its number of trips and No. 2 in the number of participants.

The university’s Alternative Break Program is the second oldest in the nation. Vanderbilt University is credited with establishing the first program.

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June 2, 2010