Service sometimes hurts, CMU student finds

Patrick Nickel receives 2007–08 Spirit of Generosity Award

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Sometimes, serving others hurts. Just ask Patrick Nickel – he knows. Nickel, a second year student at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg, injured his ankle trying some new tricks while skateboarding. But it was all for a good cause; Nickel was hurt at The Edge, a Youth For Christ skateboard park where he volunteers five hours each week with inner city youth.

“Some of the kids I work with are phenomenal on skateboards,” says Nickel, who was hobbling around the university on crutches during the last month of school. “I, on the other hand, am pretty horrible.”

For his service, Nickel, of Delta, B.C., is CMU’s 2007-08 recipient of the Mennonite Foundation of Canada Spirit of Generosity Award, which is given annually to students at Mennonite schools in Canada who have demonstrated a spirit of generosity in their personal lives.

Each Spirit of Generosity award winner receives $400 from the Foundation, $200 of which is given to a charity of the recipient’s choice.

While at The Edge, Nickel does more than skateboard – he also seeks to develop friendships with the kids and take interest in their lives. “It’s about relationships as much as it is about skate boarding,” he says, adding that The Edge seeks to provide youth with a safe space to hang out, develop friendships and be mentored.

Many of the youth also lack good role models in their lives, says Nickel, a member of Delta’s Cedar Park Mennonite Brethren Church. “They aren’t bad kids. They just have had some bad modelling when it comes to discipline, school, alcohol, and drugs.”

Nickel, who is studying youth ministry at CMU, says his time at The Edge has shown him why “some kids struggle so much and get in trouble with the law. It’s not because they don’t care, it’s often that they aren’t taught any better.”

“Patrick is committed to shaping future generations of young adults through a Christian model,” says Marilyn Peters Kliewer, dean of students at CMU. “Through laughter, encouragement, and a lot of love he is breaking down the barriers that prohibit youth from redefining their own future, as well as the future of the city of Winnipeg.”

Mennonite Foundation of Canada is an organization that encourages stewardship education and service from a Mennonite perspective. Its head office is in Winnipeg.

—CMU release

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