BTG Hope

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Pittsburgh Projects - 2012

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Hazelwood Food Resource Guide

Student Interns:
Kelsey Buchanan, University of Pittsburgh, School of Nursing
Fei Ding, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health

Academic Preceptor:
Tracy Soska, MSW, LSW, University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work

Community Preceptors:
Lisa Donofrio, Hazelwood YMCA
Megan Flanagan, Hazelwood YMCA

The Community Site:
The Hazelwood YMCA, established in 1971, is one of the major resource centers in the greater Hazelwood community. The YMCA provides families and children with various youth development programs, social services and healthy lifestyle programs, including after-school care, summer day camp, academic assistance, a daily congregate feeding program, a food pantry, energy assistance, the Silver Sneakers exercise program and a pool safety class. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Environmental Health; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
In addition to working with children in the summer camp, Kelsey and Fei were introduced to the food pantry, the farm stand and the Hazelwood Urban Gardens, where they discovered that food resources in Hazelwood, especially the urban gardens, were underutilized. After talking with local residents and discussing concerns with their mentors, they saw the need for a comprehensive food resource guide. Kelsey and Fei then created a resource guide that contains information about the various food-related programs in Hazelwood, including food pantries, farm stands, senior services and co-ops. The guide includes contact information, hours, what to expect/what to bring with you and eligibility requirements for each of the resources. In addition, the guide contains information about the Hazelwood Urban Gardens and how residents can give back to their community by growing and harvesting their own produce. Fei said, “My experience at Hazelwood YMCA … taught me the value of listening: In order to make anything good happen in an underserved community, the first and most important thing is to listen to and understand community residents’ experiences, thoughts, frustrations and needs. Because of the BTG program, I am considering working more closely with underserved populations or advocating for them as a public health professional.” Kelsey noted, “I have learned that the greatest thing I can do in my community, whether as a nurse, an intern or just an interested passerby, is to listen to the heart of the person in front of me—without judgment, bias or preconceived notions—and ask the community what I can do for them, instead of using them to accomplish my goals.”

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A New Beginning: Operation Stress Relief

Student Interns:
Heather Bernard, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine
Fahad Mansuri, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health

Academic Preceptor:
Michael Yonas, DrPH, MPH, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Jessica Schmid, Braddock Youth Project

The Community Site:
The mission of the Braddock Youth Project is to engage the youth of Braddock and surrounding boroughs in the Braddock community revitalization process, teaching them transferable skills that will enable them to be lifelong active members in their community. Creative activities have included gardening, art, dance and music-based activities in addition to health and wellness. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Injury and Violence Prevention; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
At the Braddock Youth Project, Fahad and Heather designed a unique and relevant stress relief program for the youth. The program’s goal was to help the youth develop personal, meaningful ways to relieve stress, thereby reducing the lack of autonomy they feel when stressful situations occur in their lives. The youth chose different techniques to practice and used journaling to track their experiences. They also created a stress relief guide that outlined the most popular stress relief techniques. The guide will be sold as a fund-raising tool for the Braddock Youth Project at their farmers market and posted on their Web site for the community to access. The program gave the youth a voice and a chance to develop their leadership skills, while spreading awareness of the Braddock Youth Project and involving the Braddock community. Heather commented, “It has been a privilege to learn about the lives, culture and history of wonderful people who have poured into my life with new thoughts, perspectives and abilities. I will never be able to repay the people I have worked with for the lessons they have taught me that I will carry with me. … I will incorporate these lessons into how I treat my patients, making sure to not only listen to their symptoms, but also to the voice of their community that speaks through them.” Fahad noted, “It was an amazing community experience and I learned a lot. … The internship contributed greatly in helping me see and understand real problems in the community. … I am glad that I was given the opportunity to work with BTG and grow in staggering proportions both personally and professionally, making great friends the whole time.”

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Getting Better All the Time: Educating, Evaluating and Marketing

Student Interns:
Julie Kenyon, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health
M. Jairan Sadeghi, University of Pittsburgh, School of Nursing

Academic Preceptor:
Jon Pletcher, MD, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Terry Levels, Center of Life
Reverend Tim Smith, Center of Life

The Community Site:
Center of Life (COL) is a faith-based organization located in the Hazelwood neighborhood of Pittsburgh. COL empowers children, youth and families to learn the skills necessary to build stronger communities. An entrepreneurial spirit is created through the implementation of various programs, including KRUNK, Fusion and COL basketball. KRUNK is a student-led music and health initiative that uses jazz, hip-hop, dance, recording engineering, visual art and equipment management to communicate positive messages about physical and mental health to teens and preteens. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Health Communication; Mental Health; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Jairan and Julie developed an inventory of the Center of Life’s existing media and communication tools and created a centralized document with recommendations on how to use these resources. The inventory helped to emphasize why KRUNK, jazz, Fusion and basketball are important to the youth and the community. To gather and evaluate qualitative information from the KRUNK participants, the interns created an tool consisting of pre- and post-surveys, guided interview questions and a summer staff assessment. In addition, the interns developed a mental and physical health education series to provide basic factual information and equip the KRUNK participants with helpful tools to facilitate their efforts in gathering information on mental and physical health. Finally, the interns helped Center of Life by staffing tables at the Hazelwood Heritage weekend and bike-trail ribbon cutting, producing fliers and other materials as needed, and providing connections to community resources. These community resources will allow COL to continue to provide up-to-date health education, service and support to empower and strengthen the Hazelwood community. Julie said, “The most rewarding aspect of BTG is the opportunity to learn from and with the community. Center of Life (COL) embraced us as a part of COL rather than just interns. My experience was such that I saw the energy, dedication and care needed to help Hazelwood to grow into a strong and empowered community.” Jairan noted, “I have grown to deeply appreciate COL, including the aspects that diverge from its official mission statement. These pockets of safety and support that are provided to the community’s youth are crucial, and I am grateful to have been permitted to experience the intimate, self-starting efforts at youth empowerment and community enrichment.”

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Making Voices Heard at CHS

Student Interns:
Amanda Jaber, University of Pittsburgh, School of Pharmacy
Rebecca Nock, University of Pittsburgh, School of Nursing

Academic Preceptor:
Ann Mitchell, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, FAAN, University of Pittsburgh, School of Nursing

Community Preceptor:
Dina Ciabattoni, MSW, Community Human Services Corporation

The Community Site:
Community Human Services (CHS) Corporation seeks to enhance people’s lives and strengthen communities by providing opportunities to develop individual potential and by delivering comprehensive services that maximize the health and well-being of those it serves in South Oakland and the greater Pittsburgh area. The Mental Health Residential Programs at Community Human Services provide domiciliary care, enhanced supported housing and case management for individuals in need of a supervised living arrangement. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Access to Health Care; Disabilities Conditions; Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Mental Health; Preparedness

The Project:
While getting to know the staff and residents at Community Human Services (CHS), Amanda and Rebecca learned that CHS wanted to encourage residents and program participants to be involved in advocacy activities. In response to this request, the interns created a program, “Making Voices Heard at CHS,” which consisted of a video and an advocacy resource guide. Amanda and Rebecca received regular feedback from CHS program participants to ensure that the advocacy resource guide included information important to them. Through these interactions Amanda and Rebecca were able to identify and videotape CHS program participants whose stories were impactful. The video can be used in advocacy efforts with legislators, funders or for advertising CHS to the broader community. Amanda commented, “This experience has left an incredible mark on what being a professional means to me. I have learned that for as much as you think you know about certain populations there is no way that you can have even a small grasp at understanding some of the trials and ordeals that they face daily. Only until you attempt to look into some of those personal things by listening, conversing and sharing can you hope to provide the care that these people deserve.” Rebecca noted, “The conversations I had this summer were incredibly rewarding and taught me about community and the strength that individual people have within themselves. I also learned about the role of advocacy in populations that feel like they do not have a voice, like the elderly and those with mental health conditions. It is incredibly important for them to feel like their opinion matters and that they can speak out about issues they find important.”

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The Healthy Options Promoting Empowerment (HOPE) Program

Student Interns:
Catherine Clark, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health
Gabriella Jones-Casey, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Social Work

Academic Preceptor:
Jessica Griffin Burke, PhD, MHS, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health

Community Preceptors:
Traci Arnold, Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center, Inc.
Lindsay Hudak, Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center, Inc.
Rachel Weleski, Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center, Inc.

The Community Site:
Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center, Inc., is a domestic violence shelter in Tarentum, Pennsylvania. The shelter, along with a transitional housing unit and an administrative outreach office, serves abused women and families in the Allegheny-Westmoreland region. The HOPE Center’s goal is to help victims of domestic abuse restart their lives in a healthy and productive manner, empowering women to make their own decisions. The HOPE Center strives to provide a safe environment for women to recover from their individual crises, providing options, information, education and support. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Health Communication; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health

The Project:
At the Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center, Catherine and Gabriella worked on the Healthy Options Promoting Empowerment (HOPE) program. This nutrition program is aimed at empowering women who have experienced homelessness and/or intimate partner violence to take control of their diets and their children’s diets. The program has five components: Smart Start is a nutrition program that is integrated into the center’s group meetings and covers overall health, mental health, oral health, healthy cooking and shopping on a budget; Food for Thought is a comprehensive nutrition primer and a healthy cookbook; Topsy-Turvy gives the women the opportunity to grow tomato and strawberry plants and increases access to fresh produce; Green Thumb provides a terrabox and guidelines on growing an indoor herb garden; and Helping Hands is a collaborative effort that provides weekly/monthly produce donations for the HOPE Center. Helping Hands also built a partnership with community agencies and documented the best practices associated with nonprofit organizations starting and sustaining community gardens in low-income or disadvantaged communities. Katie noted, “Our work with the HOPE Center highlighted for me the impact that effective internship programs and interns can have. … With funding cuts to so many human services programs, the resources of organizations like the HOPE Center are stretched thinner than ever. Programs like BTG bring interns with energy, enthusiasm and motivation to these organizations, where we can be those extra minds and sets of hands to tackle projects and challenges that may have otherwise been put on the back burner or discarded altogether.” Gabriella reflected, “As someone who aspires to work with low-income communities as well as with survivors of sexual, emotional and physical abuse, it was wonderful to be afforded the opportunity to work as a BTG intern this summer. … At a time where our country, our world, is faced with a plethora of social problems (e.g., high rates of poverty, un/underemployment, chronic disease, food insecurity, domestic violence, war, etc.) it is ever more important for social service or ‘helping’ agencies to attract, invest in and nurture talent. … The HOPE Center represents one such agency that strives to empower the women and families that they serve, working effortlessly to address the needs of the entire person. With the unwavering support of my partner and community site mentor, I was able to think ‘outside of the box’ and take risks as we endeavored to tackle the issue of poor nutrition at the Alle-Kiski HOPE Center.”

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Parenting Handbook for Early Head Start Families

Student Interns:
Mallory Byrne, University of Pittsburgh, School of Nursing
Vanessa Gatskie, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health

Academic Preceptor:
Thistle Elias, DrPH, MPA, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health

Community Preceptors:
Pamela Dickinson, Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center (COTRAIC), Early Head Start
Deborah Gallagher, Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center (COTRAIC), Early Head Start
Stacey Mitts, Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center (COTRAIC), Early Head Start

The Community Site:
Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center (COTRAIC) Early Head Start (EHS) provides comprehensive child development and family support services for expectant mothers and children from birth to 3 years of age. EHS works with both the caregivers and the children to identify and address possible developmental, environmental and mental health issues. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Access to Health Care; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Mental Health; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
After being introduced to the COTRAIC Early Head Start (EHS) children, parents and home visitors, Mallory and Vanessa discovered the agency’s interest in additional support and information about parenting skills. To address this need, the interns developed a parenting skills handbook that can be used by the home visitors and distributed to families. The handbook contains information on basic parenting skills and topics relevant to parent-child interaction, including oral health, potty training, attachment, reading baby cues, stress and anger management, and positive parenting. Due to the spectrum of literacy and visual acuity among the EHS parents, they also recorded an audio presentation so this parenting information can be shared with all EHS families. Vanessa said, “BTG and my work at COTRAIC Early Head Start have been eye-opening experiences for me. To visit people’s homes is incredibly intimate. … I feel that I have a better appreciation for the difficulties that [families] face on a daily basis, which impact their current situation. This program has given me a new perspective and respect for people struggling to cope with poverty.” Mallory stated, “My experiences working with BTG and Early Head Start have made me aware of my own false assumptions about those living in poverty. I have seen both beautiful and devastating conditions of families, and I feel I have grown as an individual because of them. This experience will certainly help me in my future career as a nurse because now … I have a better understanding of their physical, emotional and social needs and exactly how I can help them.”

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Empowering Women Through Recovery: The Journey of Raising Children Affected by Maternal Addiction

Student Interns:
Rachel Delzangle, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health
Kandace Powell, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Social Work

Academic Preceptor:
Martha Ann Terry, PhD, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health

Community Preceptor:
Sharon Jones, MS, Sojourner House

The Community Site:
Sojourner House is a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility for women with children. They provide compassionate, faith-based recovery services to mothers and their children in the Pittsburgh area. They strive to help addicted mothers break the intergenerational cycle of poverty and chemical abuse while rebuilding damaged relationships with their children. Sojourner House believes women can shatter the chains of addiction and hopelessness when surrounded by what means most to them: their children. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Substance Abuse

The Project:
After observing and initiating discussions with the Sojourner residents and their supervisors, Kandace and Rachel designed and implemented a format for a weekly empowerment group. The group’s mission was to discuss with the women the tools necessary to help their children overcome the possible impact of maternal addiction, and to explore how women can break the intergenerational cycle of addiction and move the family into wholeness. The group curriculum addressed a range of related issues, including exploration of pregnancy experiences, fetal alcohol syndrome and coping strategies/stress relief. Sojourner House staff received a binder that will enable them to replicate the groups. Kandace and Rachel developed a corresponding pamphlet with the information covered in each empowerment group session and additional resources for the women to utilize once they complete the program. The pamphlet is a part of the intake/welcome package that new residents receive upon coming to Sojourner House. Kandace commented, “I am convinced that I had the best placement—not because of what I was able to pour into the women, but because of what the women, staff and children were able to pour into me. I am eternally grateful for my experience at Sojourner House. Each day has challenged me for the better. To be in this program takes great strength—and the women who stick it out have truly inspired me. They have given me a new appreciation for each moment that life brings.” Rachel said, “Eye-opening … regarding the disease of addiction and those that suffer from it, but the experience affected me on a personal level as well. This is the part of the experience that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Seeing little pieces of myself in each of the women and hearing their often sad and heartbreaking stories made me realize how fortunate and lucky I am to be where I am at in my life.”

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Fitness Programs for Special Populations

Student Interns:
Katherine Macioce, University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work
Jesabel Rivera de Jesus, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health

Academic Preceptor:
Emma Barinas-Mitchell, PhD, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health

Community Preceptors:
Dina Ciabattoni, MSW, Community Human Services Corporation
Mary Herbert, MPA, Birmingham Clinic

The Community Site:
The Birmingham Free Clinic (BFC), located on Pittsburgh’s South Side, is the only completely free walk-in health clinic in the city. The BFC provides services ranging from diagnosis and prevention of disease to management of chronic conditions, specialty health care services, and extensive health and social service referrals and case management. Community Human Services Corporation (CHS), located in South Oakland, Pittsburgh, seeks to enhance people’s lives and strengthen communities by providing opportunities to develop individual potential and by delivering comprehensive services that maximize health. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Health Communication; Physical Activity; Preparedness; Tobacco Use

The Project:
Katherine and Jesabel worked with both the Birmingham Free Clinic (BFC) and Community Human Services Corporation (CHS). In order to maximize success of the BFC’s fitness initiative, the Perfect Fit program, Jesabel and Katie created a strategic plan to implement the program at the free clinic. Their plan included the fundamental decisions and actions needed to shape and guide the Perfect Fit program, including information on how to recruit volunteers; a Pittsburgh neighborhood resource guide that provides information on grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, gym facilities, sports leagues and recreational opportunities; and a “Prezi” health presentation that is displayed in the BFC lobby, where patients wait to see a physician. This plan will later be presented to caseworkers at CHS to increase participation in their On the Move program. In addition, Jesabel and Katie created and conducted motivational questionnaires to retrieve information from the BFC’s population. Through these questionnaires, the BFC will be able to understand more fully their patients’ exercise preferences and health perceptions, and the barriers that deter them from exercise. Katie noted, “One of the most rewarding aspects about being a BTG intern at the Birmingham Free Clinic and Community Human Services was working with a team of people who differ in capabilities, dispositions and backgrounds. Because both BFC and CHS foster diversity in the workplace, I have learned to value the concept in a new way.” Jesabel stated, “Throughout the summer I havegrown not only as a future public health professional, but as a person. Interacting with special communities has opened my eyes to see their real necessities, and it has opened my heart on wanting to be an agent of change.”

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"My internship … has affected me deeply. I have learned about the complexities of substance abuse and the struggles women face to remain clean. Working with a student from a discipline other than my own has helped me to view health issues from another perspective."
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