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USD AWOL students learn about women’s health and prenatal care in Sioux Falls by serving the Teddy Bear Den

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Twelve students from the University of South Dakota travelled to Sioux Falls, S.D., Saturday, Nov. 15 to work with the Teddy Bear Den, an incentive and education based program for the limited income pregnant women in the Sioux Falls community. The Alternative Week of Off-campus Learning (AWOL) program organized the project as one of their monthly Alternative Weekends, or short-term service-learning opportunities that focus on local and regional issues.

The students assisted in various volunteer projects including moving cribs onto the donation floor. In addition to the service component, the students learned about the difficulties women with limited incomes face in Sioux Falls in both affording and receiving early and regular prenatal care.

Like other AWOL events, Alternative Weekends are entirely student-led. The site leaders for the event were Sidney Heisler of Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Lara Williams of Pierre, S.D. Other students participating were Taryn Twite of Beresford, S.D.; Courtney Arney of Canton, S.D.; Brianna Brage of Watertown, S.D.; Kennedy Ischen of Brookings, S.D.; Kelsey Weber of Mitchell, S.D.; Shane Hansen of Hot Springs, S.D.; Heather Reikofski of Crescent, Iowa; Sara Napsey of Tomah, Wis.; Stacie Kjelden of Vermillion, S.D.; and Marah Smith of Groton, S.D.


Housed in the Center for Academic Engagement and Global Engagement, AWOL (Alternative Week of Off-Campus Learning) offers students the opportunity to combine community service with education during academic breaks. Prior to departure, students participate in six weeks of educational training. By utilizing experiences and education, AWOL enables students to become active citizens whose community becomes a priority in their everyday life and provides them with avenues for continued community involvement and learning.


USD’s Center for Academic & Global Engagement (CAGE) gives students the chance to gain real-world experience and knowledge and connect with their community and the larger world. CAGE offers academically based opportunities that create skills employers and graduate schools seek. Among them: off-campus service-learning programs, studying abroad, student exchange, undergraduate research and nationally competitive awards and fellowships. CAGE also provides support to international students with cultural and academic adjustments as well as immigration concerns.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hanna DeLange
USD News