10 April 2024 | Story Okuhle April | Photo SUPPLIED
Sustainability and entrepreneurship workshop 2024
The UFS Community Engagement Festival showcased sustainability, entrepreneurship, and social justice initiatives as part of efforts to empower students.

The Engaged Scholarship Office at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently hosted the Community Engagement Festival, a week-long event focused on sustainability, entrepreneurship, and social justice for students. The festival, which forms part of the office’s broader Community Engagement project, showcased various activities and initiatives aimed at educating participants about these critical topics.

A standout feature of the festival, which was hosted on the UFS’s Bloemfontein Campus, was its emphasis on sustainability. Activities included crafting beads from recycled magazines into bracelets and making soap from eco-friendly material. Beyond promoting sustainability and entrepreneurship, the festival also aimed to foster social cohesion by helping first-year students navigate university life.

Gernus Terblanche, an assistant researcher who heads the Engaged Scholarship Office, emphasised the importance of such initiatives. “The Community Engagement project’s focal points are environmental affairs, social justice – where we make use of the hashtag #KovsiesCare – and health and wellness, where the project aims to raise awareness about menstrual health and find ways to assist with sustainable menstrual health,” he said.

The Community Engagement project has grown significantly over the past year, expanding from six members to a community of 200 individuals. Successful projects include a worm farming initiative for income generation, which teaches students how to cultivate and sell worms for composting.

With support from entities such as the KovsieACT office, CTM, the Bloem Shelter and the Bloemfontein National Hospital, the project has gained widespread recognition for its impactful work.

Additionally, the project’s efforts align with the graduate attributes of UFS’s Vision 130, which emphasises skills like communication, critical thinking, and professionalism. Terblanche highlighted the importance of these attributes in shaping well-rounded graduates.

Looking forward, the Community Engagement project plans to sustain its work, with upcoming initiatives like a sewing competition to further engage and empower students within the university community.

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