PEI

UPEI ending 40-year Shinerama tradition

After more than 40 years supporting Cystic Fibrosis Canada through its Canada-wide Shinerama fundraiser, UPEI's first-year students will take part in a new local fundraising initiative called Panthers for Change.

Organizers scrapping fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis Canada, supporting charities based on P.E.I.

According to Cystic Fibrosis Canada, UPEI alone has raised more than $380,000 through Shinerama campaigns in the past 39 years. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

After nearly 40 years supporting Cystic Fibrosis Canada's national Shinerama fundraising campaign, UPEI is focusing its efforts elsewhere this year.

The university's new student orientation coordinator Tayte Willows says first-year students will take part in a new local fundraising initiative called Panthers for Change.

We wanted to provide them with the chance to connect with groups working here on P.E.I.- Tayte Willows, UPEI

"Ultimately it came down to what the purpose for new student orientation is — an opportunity for our students to build healthy connections, and to develop those connections on campus and in the larger community," said Willows.

"So we wanted to provide them with the chance to connect with groups working here on P.E.I. and doing work that they can stay connected to throughout the rest of their time in university."

Supporting local groups

Unlike Shinerama — which saw students at UPEI and other universities collecting money that goes back to Cystic Fibrosis Canada's national office — the new initiative will directly support four local groups: the P.E.I. Humane Society, the P.E.I. chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association, PEI Family Violence Prevention Services, and the Alzheimer's Society of P.E.I. 

We are disappointed that UPEI will not be participating in Shinerama this year, but are hopeful we will work with UPEI again in the future.- Cystic Fibrosis Canada's Atlantic director

All four groups will meet with students during their first week in September to discuss what they do and how students can get involved throughout the year. 

"Then on September 6th — a Tuesday — we'll be downtown collecting change just like you used to [with Shinerama]," said Willows.

"We'll be out along the streets, singing, dancing, having a good time, and looking for support from the community."

'We're disappointed'

According to Cystic Fibrosis Canada, UPEI alone has raised over $380,000 through Shinerama campaigns over the past 39 years. 

In a statement to CBC News, the organization's Atlantic director Lisa Weatherhead said that money has helped "local families in P.E.I. receive specialized multidisciplinary care."

"We are disappointed that UPEI will not be participating in Shinerama this year, but are hopeful we will work with UPEI again in the future," she added. 

New student orientation coordinator Tayte Willows gets organized ahead of NSO week. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

The P.E.I. Humane Society says it's pleased to see UPEI students focusing their attention on local organizations. 

"Especially for new students coming from off Island that might not be familiar with our organization, this is a wonderful opportunity," said development coordinator Jennifer Harkness.

"And hopefully we'll gather some more volunteers as well."

Willows says the Panthers for Change fundraiser will likely become an annual initiative, though the university may decide to support different local groups each year.