Nearly 20 years ago, Sophia Schwalbach lost her older brother, Nick, in an off-campus fraternity house fire. When Sophia became a freshman at Milliken in 2015, she created the Nick Project to ensure that students are as prepared as possible for any fire-related incidents, so they don’t meet a similar fate.
The Project was initially presented verbally to educate the students of risks of fires and how to prevent them. Now years later and with the help of the Decatur community, Millikin University, Camp I Am Me, and the State Fire Marshals Office, this initiative is continuing to supply students with free fire safety equipment – including fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and even escape ladders.
“I wanted to be able to hand out the fire extinguishers, the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, the escape ladders,” Schwalbach said. “Because I was talking about it so much during my speeches, but the reality is, the cost of those three things are going to be over $100 dollars for each student. And what college student really has those extra funds they’re going to spend?”
It is now a university requirement for off-campus students to attend The Nick Project safety course.
“It’s a wonderful program being put on by the university, it’s a great requirement for the students off campus to be able to have to attend this. It’s just going to make everybody safer,” said Philip Zaleski, Executive Director Camp I Am Me
– – –
In 2022, Sophia Schwalbach was presented with the Special Recognition Award by Camp I Am Me at the Fire Prevention Week Luncheon as a result of her years of spreading fire safety messages and life-saving equipment at Millikin University.