Each of our trips falls within one of 15 focuses based on the community issue that we hope to address through our service. Although each trip has a primary focus, we always strive for intersectionality, meaning that our trips encompass multiple issues outside of their primary one. We understand that community issues do not exist within a vacuum. Understanding the ways in which multiple factors influence the circumstances of a community is an integral component of providing effective service.
Click on one of the focus icons below to learn more!
Adaptive sports provide an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to be empowered through athletic achievement. These programs strive to promote independence and personal growth in their participants through recreational activities.
Adaptive Ski trips serve with ski programs (typically in Utah or Colorado) that offer Ski lessons to individuals with disabilities. These programs are tailored and individualized for the specific individual in order to offer the best experience possible. Because the trips serve as ski instructors during their service, all participants must be able to ski independently and proficiently before joining the trip.
**If you are interested in serving individuals with disabilities, but do not have ski experience, we recommend applying for a trip within the Disabilities focus.
**If you are a site leader and are interested in expanding this service focus, we would love to see more trips serve with other types of adaptive sports programs, such as adaptive gymnastics, Special Olympics, therapeutic riding, and more!
Although animal focused service is typically thought of through the lens of animal shelters, past trips have served in many settings such as exotic animal sanctuaries and teaching farms, as well as classic animal shelters such as those run by the Humane Society. In all of these settings, participants strive to serve as a resource to their partner organization in order to facilitate the services they offer to the animals they cared for.
As creatures without a social voice, animals are unable to advocate for themselves socially or politically. Because of this, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of humans to serve as advocates for their plight. Through service in the animals focus, participants may gain a stronger sense of empathy for animals and education pertaining to the dangers that many animals face in our society.
Disability focused service strives to make our world more accessible and inclusive for people of all abilities. Service within the disabilities service focus can help individuals to become more understanding and knowledgeable about the experiences of individuals with disabilities.
Disabilities are typically classified as physical or developmental and disabilities and can affect anyone regardless of socio-economic status, gender, or race. In fact, more than one in four adults have a disability and more than one in four 20-year-olds will experience disability before retirement. Disability service may take the form of advocating for disability-related legislation on the state or federal level, working at a care facility for aging individuals, volunteering at a camp for kids with disabilities, or working at a day program that teaches life skills. Through Disability focused trips, participants serve with a wide range of community organizations and learn about issues facing the disability community, how to be an ally and advocate, and what they can do to promote inclusion and accessibility in their own community.
For more information on accessibility here at Mizzou, visit disabilitycenter.missouri.edu/accessible-future.
Natural disasters are an unfortunate, but unavoidable, aspect of life. In the U.S. alone, there was over $10 billion-dollars of damage from weather disasters in 2018. These disasters can, in an instant, permanently change the courses of the lives of the people who are affected by them. After a disaster, communities are often times left with a devastating burden to rebuild. Through service within the disaster relief focus, we hope to assist communities impacted by natural disasters to rebuild, and heal, in whatever ways they request.
Disaster Relief trips typically serve with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity that work within communities that were affected by natural disasters to facilitate rebuilding of homes and other community structures. In planning Disaster Relief trips, we are also cognizant of the adverse impacts our intentions of serving can have. Often times, communities are offered more assistance than they can effectively integrate immediately following disasters. For example, it is common for people to send donations of clothes and toys to areas affected by disaster, but many times these good intentions can lead to problems for the community that does not have the capacity to organize and distribute all of the donations. By taking a critical approach to planning, and being mindful of the needs of the people we hope to benefit, we ensure that we do not become a burden on our community partners.
Information to Come
Environmentally focused service is incredibly important because environmental issues affects every community. Service that is commonly done on Environment focused trips includes fighting food insecurity through sustainable farming, making nature more accessible through trail building and maintenance, and conserving ecosystems. Participants on environment trips can come home more cognizant of the impact they are making on the world around them, with a better understanding of natural resources and agriculture, and a passion for conserving the natural beauty around them. For example, participants who served in Mammoth Cave National Park have come home with a better understanding of the importance of public land in conserving the longest cave system in the world and the importance of conservation policy. They also came home with a better understanding on how invasive species can be destructive to native flora and how humans can negatively impact biodiversity through their actions. This is a great service focus for all majors!
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization that focuses on providing affordable housing to people in all 50 states and 70 countries. Their vision is of “a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” A new study by PhD candidate Giselle Routhier shows that over 50% of people living in urban areas in the United States face housing insecurity. This means that families are spending 30% or more of their income on housing, forcing them to choose between food and transportation or healthcare or taking a second job. Housing instability significantly decreases the wellbeing of families and children across the nation—leading to physical and mental hardships. Habitat for Humanity works to directly alleviate these problems by building partnerships with families in need of housing. Habitat helps provide solutions to housing insecurity, doing everything from small repairs and new construction to financial education and skill building. In order to keep prices low, Habitat relies on volunteers to work on housing sites and Habitat Re-Stores. That’s where Mizzou Alternative Breaks comes in! MAB Habitat for Humanity trips partner with Habitat chapters across the US. Although each trip serves a unique population, they all share the same goal: to provide affordable and stable housing.
Most people imagine hospitals, nurses, and doctors when they think of the health field, but health is so much more. Health begins with the individual and the habits they build towards a healthy lifestyle. The Health service focus allows us to explore all aspects of what health could be. Trips that have a health service focus could be serving with community gardens, health nonprofits, or hospitals, or be providing education and resources to a population that might not have direct access to health care.
By participating in education and exposing yourself to health issues impacting communities, participants can not only begin to make healthier choices for themselves but also bring it back home to Mizzou and their own communities. Health focus trips can also help provide resources to under-served populations. Community health organizations and food banks across the country are always looking for service trips to lighten the load of their service to get more resources to their communities. Health has the benefit of having a flexible definition allowing for so many different types of trips and experiences!
Far too often, the voices of individuals experiencing homelessness are ignored by the public. In many places in the United States, individuals experiencing homelessness are seen as an inconvenience and a nuisance, instead of individuals with ample potential to contribute to their community. The Homelessness and Poverty focus hopes to bridge this understanding gap through service with organizations that work to address the needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
Economic hardship can affect anyone, at any time, because of many different circumstances. Through service in the Homelessness and Poverty focus, we hope that participants will gain a greater understanding of the societal and economic factors that lead to economic hardship, as well as the ways in which these hardships can inhibit people’s ability to find their way out of poverty. By understanding the problems that lead to poverty, we can more effectively work towards reducing poverty in our communities.
Although the history of Indigenous people, in relation to the U.S government, is taught in school, Indigenous people are regularly overlooked in our society. Too often, they are seen only through the lens of history, and not in the context of modern history. To most of us, the injustices suffered by Indigenous people in the Americas are isolated events in our country’s past, but to those with ties to Indigenous communities, these events still carry a great deal of influence over their community’s current circumstances.
Through the Indigenous Peoples service focus, participants will gain first-hand experience working with indigenous communities. They may gain a greater understanding of indigenous peoples as well as learn ways in which they can be an ally and advocate for indigenous communities in their daily lives.
According to the Pew Research Center, over 40 million people living in the United States today were born in another country. Some are immigrants, who chose to leave their home country for more opportunities. Some are refugees, who were forced to flee their home country due to violence or persecution. Many face similar challenges: learning a new language, securing housing, finding employment, accessing transportation, etc. Many non-profit organizations work towards assisting immigrants and refugees to overcome these obstacles, and trips in the Refugee and Immigration service focus work with such organizations in a variety of capacities to help them achieve their goals.
Through service in the Refugee and Immigration focus, we hope that participants will have an opportunity to not only serve, but also learn from cultural exchange with new communities.
Service within the Youth Empowerment service focus provides a broad range of service opportunities. Youth focused service organizations provide a variety of services meant to improve different facets of young peoples’ lives. These include formal and informal education, mentorship, social skills, life skills, and many others. Youth Empowerment trips serve with non-profit organizations, community centers, after school programs, and other youth service providers. Youth focused service can provide volunteers with an expanded perspective on the society we live in, and the ways in which they may influence future generations. All in all, time spent volunteering with youth is not just an investment in their life, it is an investment in in the future of our society.
What is the MAB Experience?