Gonzaga established the Center for Community Action and Service Learning (CCASL) to cement two essential elements of its mission: sharing talents with others and expanding students’ understanding of the world. CCASL helps students connect with their community, and in the process, their best selves.
Gonzaga University Specialized Recreation (GUSR) is a CCASL program that brings student volunteers together with Spokane residents who have developmental disabilities. Run entirely by students, GUSR accomplishes serious goals through unserious means: teaching life skills and building relationships through sports, theatre, dances, retreats and crafts.
At bowling matches in the fall, participants work on their topspin and their scores, as they practice manual dexterity and math. Spring basketball games promote good health, teamwork and sportsmanship. Both seasons culminate in vigorously contested tournaments and trophies for all.
Twice-yearly plays, performed for the entire Gonzaga community, give GUSR’s extroverted members a chance to shine. The performers’ enthusiasm is so infectious, it’s not uncommon for singing and dancing to break out theater-wide. Another highlight of the GUSR calendar includes on-campus retreats packed with games, crafts and adventures.
As they learn from GUSR activities, participants absorb another, deeper lesson: what unites us is not our age or abilities, our prowess or pocketbooks, but sharing a smile, a hug, a high score or a song.