A group of SUNY Cortland students will take its service efforts abroad during the College’s spring break with the intention of making a zoo in Central America more accessible for people with disabilities.
Prior to takeoff, however, the group will look to offset the cost of a $10,000 renovation project at the Belize Zoo with a local fundraiser Saturday, March 1.
It runs from 7 p.m. to closing time at the Blue Frog Café in downtown Cortland and seeks to pull in monetary donations of any amount with live entertainment, raffles and food and beverages.
“I want to become more aware of the conditions in which people live, and have my eyes opened to all the things people don’t have,” said Danielle Ben-Horin, a sophomore inclusive special education major who will make the trip from March 10 to 14. “I want to see how we can improve the environment and make it more inclusive.”
Ben-Horin is one of 10 SUNY Cortland students who will travel to Belize at her own expense to complete the Special Topics in Recreation and Leisure Studies course taught by Vicki Wilkins, a professor of recreation, parks and leisure studies. The spring break trip will include work on accessible pathways at the zoo, a bike ride to advocate for people with disabilities and other service-learning projects.
It’s just the next step in the Belize Zoo Transformation Project, a major effort that began more than a year ago when the Inclusive Recreation Resource Center (IRRC) housed at SUNY Cortland stepped up to promote accessibility abroad.
What started as a challenge for one patron has turned into an accessible parking lot and restroom at the zoo. Thousands of dollars have been raised so far, but the cost to complete the inclusion project comes with a hefty price tag to purchase asphalt for the pathways project.
People who are unable to attend the Blue Frog Café fundraiser can give online to the project at www.indiegogo.com/projects/belize-zoo-accessibility-project.
For more information or to offer a donation for the Blue Frog event, contact Wilkins at 607-753-4972.