Displayed throughout campus, paper footprints walk the walls. Each one states, “If you walked a day in my shoes you would know…” — an opened ended question for any student to complete.
Kathy McCabe, criminal justice professor at Central Oregon Community College, created Compassionate soles earlier this year after a summer workshop. Her goal was to have students notice these footprints and read the unique stories that their fellow classmates and students were willing to share.
After receiving all of the responses, McCabe and Amy Howell, early childhood education professor at COCC, noticed patterns and common issues. Since then, they have met with Tyler Hayes, coordinator of student engagement, and have created posters that provide students opportunities to find help. The posters reflect many of the responses they received.
On each poster there is contact information for students facing depression, domestic violence, child care help, housing options, food help, parenting difficulties and discrimination. There is also information regarding places and where students can talk about diversity and equity.
Over the course of Fall and Winter term, students have been given the opportunity to write their completion to this sentence. Footprints are sprawled throughout campus. McCabe and Howell have received hundreds of responses for Compassionate Sole footprints.
McCabe and Howell were in awe of the variety of responses they received. They varied from students writing about not being able to find a parking spot during the first week of classes to concerns about making new friends, about depression, and about homelessness.
“It’s made me appreciate my students so much. Some continue to show up to class in the morning without knowing where they’re going to stay that night,” McCabe said. This eye-opening experience has shown her so much about the each student’s unique story.
McCabe hopes that this program will remind students and staff to be kind to each person they pass throughout campus because they do not know each individual’s story and struggles. “With understanding we develop compassion,” Howell said, “and we want students to be aware that they’re sharing this space with others throughout this journey,” Howell said.
McCabe has still not determined if they will continue Compassionate Soles next fall, but if the students are willing, McCabe would not turn down the opportunity to do it again.
Olivia Webb | The Broadside