The STEP UP Advisory Council hosts garden outreach meetings every Tuesday at 9 a.m. in the Medicine Wheel Garden on campus.
STEP UP is part of Southern Miss’s Institute for Disabled Studies, which has worked to provide technical assistance, training and support for Mississippians with disabilities and their families. The work emphasizes education, assistive technology and emergency preparedness.
President of STEP UP and sophomore social work major Kahla Myers said she would like to help make the campus “more beautiful as a whole.” Myers said she is hoping people, disabled or not, will apply.
The STEP UP Advisory Council is composed of youth and young adults with and without disabilities and promotes leadership abilities and self-advocacy by allowing members to guide and lead themselves. Liaison between IDS and the STEP UP Advisory Council and STEP UP advisor Becky McKeehan said membership is composed of the Southern Miss and Pine Belt communities.
The garden program will conclude after the group reaches their plant replacement goal.
Scott Mullin, assistant advisor to the STEP UP Council, said their work at the garden is one of many ways they give back to the community. “We work at community gardens, thrift stores and the animal shelter,” Mullin said.
STEP UP has a community outreach component which includes community service and advocacy for people to find and use their voice.
“We have a lot of community-based recreation,” McKeehan said. “Sometimes we participate in different community events.”
Myers said working with STEP UP has allowed her to be more involved on campus.
“Before this year, I was shy and always stayed in my dorm,” Myers said. “We do events and community service. We also have fun and do things like go to the movies.”
STEP UP has seen growth in membership since last year.
“I have been in this role since last January,” McKeehan said. “We’ve had some really good growth. We have some members who have definitely stepped up and who drive the organization.”
“We encourage anyone who would like to participate to do whatever they can,” Mullin said. “It is not mandatory for a person to take part in every event.”
STEP UP has a paper application located at Bond Hall or online at usm.edu/ids under the Community Partnership Advisory Council tab.
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