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North country poverty focus of Feb. 5 event at SUNY Canton

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CANTON - The International Student Activist Organization (ISAO) will be holding a poverty awareness campaign beginning Feb. 3 at SUNY Canton.

The week is dedicated to informing students and the public about the overall problem of poverty and its related impediments on society, according to Sabel Bong, an advisor for the ISAO and an Educational Opportunity Program counselor at the College.

“Poverty is the underlying cause of many other issues, such as social injustice, malnutrition, and many other social ills,” said Bong. “By addressing the issue, we can find meaningful solutions to reduce and eliminate many other problems. We are part of a global community and hope to address poverty at the local, statewide, national and international level.”

Among the week of events is a discussion panel beginning at 5:45 p.m. Feb. 5 in the Richard W. Miller Campus Center’s Kingston Theater.

Panelists for the discussion will include:

■ Amani M. Awwad, PhD, and associate professor and chair of the social sciences department at SUNY Canton.

■ Canton Mayor Mary Ann Ashley

■ Thomas R. Burns, superintendent of St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES.

■ Christopher Rediehs, St. Lawrence County commissioner of social services.

■ Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell.

■ Steven J. Todd, assistant superintendent of St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES.

Donna Seymour, a member of the St. Lawrence County Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the Public Policy Vice President for AAUW-NYS, helped organize the panel discussion and will serve as the moderator.

AAUW-St. Lawrence County is a co-sponsor of the panel. “Poverty is a critical issue facing women and their families at every level and is something that AAUW works to address through our advocacy,” said Seymour.

Maleek C. McKenzie, ISAO president and an electrical engineering technology student at SUNY Canton, wants to discuss the prevalence of poverty in the greater north country area and internationally. He said there are many misconceptions of what poverty looks like.

“As tomorrow’s leaders, it is important that we are aware and educated on issues plaguing our society so that we can change them in the future,” said McKenzie.

Last year, the organization presented a week of activism to raise awareness about human trafficking. The student-run organization also provides community assistance by sponsoring local food drives.

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