Hi, I’m Jamal Balika, and I’m a third year McMaster University student currently pursuing a degree in social work and English. I started my student placement at the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton in September of 2012, which will continue up until April 2013.
Growing up in Hamilton, I haves always had the desire to get more involved in the local community and help contribute toward an increased standard and quality of life for all its residents. I saw work around community engagement and development, policy and program analysis, advocacy, and also system and service planning, as key steps in striving for this positive change. Thus, I thought a placement at the SPRC would be a perfect way to get started on this pursuit, and to gain some experience as well.
I have had the opportunity to work on several different projects alongside two amazing Social Planners, Renée Wetselaar and Carla Klassen. With Renée, I have primarily been engaged in the development of the African Canadian Network of Hamilton, as well as some involvement around establishing the 95 King Street art studios.
I am also working with Carla on other various research and evaluation initiatives for Skills Through Activity and Recreation (STAR), YWCA Hamilton, Hamilton Immigration Partnership (HIPC), Community Action Program for Children (CAPC), Healthy Communities, and Community Access to Transportation (CAT).
My overall experience at the SPRC has been great. Not only am I enjoying all of the work I have been engaged in, but I am also learning something new every day. The friendly people here have really made me feel like part of the team, and I look forward to getting even more involved as my placement progresses.