BTG Hope

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Philadelphia Consortium Projects

Homeless & Transitional Housing

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Build-a-Bridge Artology Camp

Student Intern(s):
Michael Mahoney, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy
Swetha Narahari, Drexel University College of Medicine
Danielle Simon, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy
Monica Sood, Drexel University College of Medicine
Kristin Van Heertum, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor(s):
Florence Ierardi, MM, MT-BC, LPC, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Community Preceptor(s):
Charlene Melhorn, BA, Build-a-Bridge

The Community Site:
Build-a-Bridge is an arts education and intervention organization that engages the transformative power of the arts to bring hope and healing to children, families and communities. Build-a-Bridge motivates, enlists, trains and connects those with artistic gifts with those in greatest need. View Community Partner Web Site 

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Environmental Quality; Injury and Violence; Physical Activity
Focus Areas:  Educational and Community-Based Programs; Environmental Health; Health Communication; Injury and Violence Prevention; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Michael, Swetha, Danielle, Monica and Kristin assisted in planning the curriculum and activities of the Artology summer camp at the Second Baptist Church in Germantown. The interns acted as teaching assistants and group leaders for two camp sessions­—a three-week program for sixth to eighth graders followed by a two-week program for fourth and fifth graders. Many of the students who participated in the camp came from intense lives filled with anxiety and the need for food, space, safety and affection. The interns accompanied the students on many field trips and assisted in the creation of paintings and sculptures inspired by the artist Joseph Cornell, which will be displayed in an art show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

Michael commented, “When we took our Artology camp to the art museum, I noticed that one of our student leaders … broke away from his peers … to spend extra time with a very sweet 9-year-old boy who has a lot of problems. It was very powerful indeed, seeing Build-a-Bridge's ideas—of caring, excitement, learning, creativity and community—literally trickle down from my supervisor, through my team and through our student leader, finally landing in this little boy's open hands like a pile of gold coins. This friendship brilliantly represents my reasons for participating in the program this summer. It was an honor to have played my own small role in its formation, and I want to return to this feeling again and again for the rest of my career.” 

Swetha said, “This summer has been quite an extraordinary experience! The kids who attended the sessions have each in their own way affected me … I was able to gain better insight and learn more about their lives and the unique backgrounds they come from.” 

Danielle noted, “The experiences I have gained through learning from and with these kids will be with me forever. These are bright, talented and creative kids with enormous imaginations.  With this experience they can reach for the stars and further.” 

Monica said, “The fact that so many kids talk about returning to this camp next year makes a strong statement about the impact this camp truly makes in their desire to learn.” 

Kristin stated, “I honestly have not had a whole lot of experience with kids, especially not in this age range, so I was very grateful to have the opportunity to cultivate relationships with the students, particularly because their experiences in life have been so different from my own.”

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Developing Relationships with Children from Troubled Backgrounds

Student Intern(s):
Divya Arunachalam, Drexel University College of Medicine
Jessica Link, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor(s):
Mario Cruz, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptor(s):
Alexis Harris, Women Against Abuse Children's Services
Cynthia Henderson, Women Against Abuse Children's Services

The Community Site:
Women Against Abuse (WAA) provides a number of services to victims of domestic violence.  The services include emergency housing for battered women and their children, legal services, hotline counseling, education and training, and advocacy. View Community Partner Web Site

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Overweight and Obesity; Physical Activity; Tobacco Use
Focus Areas:  Educational and Community-Based Programs; Health Communication; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Overweight; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Divya and Jessica assisted in the day camp for children living in the Women Against Abuse shelter. The interns created educational and interactive activities for the children, whose ages ranged from 5 to 14.  The activities included expressive arts and crafts, lessons on exercise and nutrition, and team-building and self-esteem activities. The interns fostered an environment of emotional stability and safety. 

Divya stated, “I learned from this unique experience about the overall impact of kindness and that our relationships with the children are much more important than the various activities that we do with them. I also learned the importance of communication and effective leadership. This experience has deeply affected me as I journey toward becoming a doctor.” 

Jessica noted, “I learned a great deal about the importance of facilitating trust and keeping an open mind to people of all paths and backgrounds.  I was not aware of some of the barriers that are in place due to diversity, both those readily recognized and those hidden under a surface of experiences. However, I now can appreciate their existence and come into encounters with patients with a new awareness and insight for their viewpoints.”

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Healthy Lives and Healthy Relationships

Student Intern(s):
Elise Duggan, University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine
Amy Kesslick, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professionals, Creative Arts in Therapy
Benjamin Oshlag, University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine
Xiomara Penn, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor(s):
Robert Chapman, PhD, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions
Kenneth Ginsburg, MD, MEd, FAAP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine

Community Preceptor(s):
Randy Taylor, Covenant House Pennsylvania

The Community Site:
Covenant House Pennsylvania (CHPA) is a crisis center and shelter for young people aged 21 and under. In addition to food and shelter, the center provides a full range of services, including case management and advocacy; access to legal advice; on-site health care provided by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and educational and vocational counseling and training programs. View Community Partner Web Site

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Mental Health; Overweight and Obesity; Physical Activity
Focus Areas:  Educational and Community-Based Programs; Mental Health and Mental Disorders; Nutrition and Overweight; Physical Activity and Fitness; Tobacco Use

The Project: 
Elise, Ben, Amy and Xiomara assisted in providing opportunities for Covenant House residents to enhance their skills and well-being through exercise, health awareness and self-expression. Various activities included walking groups, a biking workshop, maintaining a garden, cooking workshops, lyrics discussion, song writing, dance/movement workshops and a field trip to the Mütter Museum. Along with these hands-on activities, the interns worked separately to reach out to community resources to find nutrition education and healthy food options that could be accessible to the residents. The interns also assisted in connecting the residents with their Germantown community by attending a community paint day organized by the Mural Arts Program. Finally, to aid residents in job searching and preparation, the interns assisted them in finding proper interview attire and held mock interviews. 

Xiomara noted, "My time at the Covenant House has been such a rewarding experience … I am now more interested in working with marginalized people and in urban settings. Also, being part of a team with the other interns from different schools and disciplines has been great. I look forward to utilizing the lessons learned during this internship throughout the rest of my career." 

Amy said, “I have become more aware of the many talents these residents possess as well as their determination and motivation. They have opened my eyes to the other side of homelessness and shown me they are people with possibilities too. I will take this experience along with me in my journey to becoming a Music Therapist." 

Elise said, “My experiences talking to the residents and participating in groups and workshops over the summer has taught me the importance of understanding individuals within the context of their social environments. I have also come to understand the value of a multidisciplinary approach to uncover an individual’s strengths and talents." 

Ben reflected, “Being at Covenant House has taught me valuable lessons that will help me throughout my career in medicine. I have learned to interact and build relationships with kids from communities and backgrounds very much different from my own. Through this I have begun to understand where they've come from, and how to work with them from their own perspectives to help them utilize the talents and potential they all possess."

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Beyond the Streets: The Reality of Family Homelessness in Philadelphia

Student Interns:
Ethel Joy Bullard, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy
Christina Lindsay, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Academic Preceptor(s):
Elizabeth Hartzell, PhD, ATR-BC, LPC, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Community Preceptor(s):
Aileen Haggerty, Lutheran Settlement House, Jane Addams Place

The Community Site:
Located in West Philadelphia, Jane Addams Place is a comprehensive emergency shelter for mothers with children. At Jane Addams, child and family advocates focus on family systems and employ a trauma-informed model so families can regain and maintain permanent housing and employment. View Community Partner Web Site

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Mental Health; Overweight and Obesity; Physical Activity
Focus Areas:  Educational and Community-Based Programs; Injury and Violence Prevention; Nutrition and Overweight; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project: 
Joy and Christina utilized skills acquired through their training in the Creative Arts in Therapy program to engage the children, who ranged in age from 7 months to 12 years, in music, movement and art activities. The interns were able to highlight some of the children’s favorite activities, such as jumping rope, as being both fun and beneficial to cardiovascular health. Joy and Christina also interacted with the mothers through a music and movement demonstration in an in-service community meeting. As a way to encourage literacy for mothers and children, the interns collaborated on a book fair. They also helped facilitate a “mommy and me” cooking activity, which focused on nutrition and oral health. Their community outreach activity involved working with adolescents to create murals for a new community playground.  Attendance at the Client Progress Review meetings allowed the interns to learn about the policies and procedures at Jane Addams Place and the housing options available for families. 

Joy commented, “My experience … has also emphasized the impact that homelessness can have on all aspects of health. The problem of family homelessness is often overlooked in our society.” 

Christina noted, “I am grateful to the families … for allowing me into their home and providing me with an opportunity to witness daily life in a homeless shelter. I had a very narrow concept of homelessness and this experience has opened my eyes ...  BTG enabled me to make personal connections with individuals in a setting outside of a professional therapeutic environment. I was able to develop relationships that I anticipate will inform me in my future work as a dance/movement therapist.”

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Mercy Hospice; Taking Charge of Our Own Health!

Student Intern(s):
Chelsea Griffis, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson School of Nursing
Liz Wilson, Bryn Mawr College, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research

Academic Preceptor(s):
Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College

Community Preceptor(s):
Denise Botcheos, LSW, Mercy Hospice

The Community Site: 
Mercy Hospice, located in Center City, Philadelphia, provides women in recovery and their children with temporary housing. Mercy offers an integrated, multidisciplinary plan of care that includes comprehensive case management, job-skills training, financial counseling, health and nutrition workshops, parenting courses, and child-care services. View Community Partner Web Site

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Mental Health; Physical Activity; Substance Abuse
Focus Areas:  Educational and Community-Based Programs; Health Communication; Heart Disease and Stroke; Physical Activity and Fitness; Substance Abuse

The Project: 
Motivated by the Mercy Hospice residents’ desire to increase their daily level of activity, Chelsea and Liz structured a summer program that would encourage the women to be more involved and knowledgeable about their own health. The interns created daily discussion groups for the women on general health topics such as cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and nutrition. To improve the physical well-being of the residents, the interns ran weekly exercise and yoga classes.  They also organized field trips to the pool, the Mütter Museum and the Franklin Institute to get the women out of the house and involved in learning about their health. 

Chelsea commented, “For the very first time, I was able to try and interject in the health care system before chronic disease or an acute attack took place, which allowed me to witness an entirely different aspect of nursing. The knowledge that I have gained during this experience will certainly be of great use to me in my future medical career.” 

Liz reflected, “BTG was an amazing learning experience. I got paired with a BTG nursing intern and learned so much from her, which, as a social work student, was invaluable. Every day at Mercy Hospice I was challenged to think outside the box. I also got the chance to get to know some amazing women who were generous enough to share their wisdom, strength and their stories of recovery with me.” 

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My Brother’s Keeper: Engaging Homeless Men Through Advocacy, Health Education and Service

Student Intern(s):
Joanie Brumbaugh, George Washington University, George Washington University School of Medicine
Jonathan Musyt, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College

Academic Preceptor(s):
George Valko, MD, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College

Community Preceptor(s):
Kate Colameco, BSW, Bethesda Project, My Brother’s House

The Community Site: 
My Brother’s House, a component of the Bethesda Project, is a safe-haven shelter for formerly homeless men who battle mental illness and substance abuse. View Community Partner Web Site

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Access to Health Care; Mental Health; Substance Abuse
Focus Areas:  Access to Quality Health Services; Educational and Community-Based Programs; Heart Disease and Stroke; Mental Health and Mental Disorders; Oral Health

The Project: 
Joanie and Jonathan collaborated with the social worker to provide needed medical services for the men residing at My Brother’s House. The interns assisted the residents in obtaining health insurance and welfare benefits, scheduling health-care appointments, procuring all needed referrals, and serving as advocates by accompanying residents to appointments. They engaged the residents in sharing their social histories and assisted the men in the completion of living wills. Joanie and Jonathan also facilitated discussions on health topics, including cardiovascular health, heat safety, hygiene, oral health, diabetes and nutrition. These presentations involved props and active participation to facilitate the men’s understanding of the concepts discussed. In addition, the interns assisted in planning and coordinating recreational activities with the men such as playing games, attending movies and going to recreational picnics. 

Joanie commented, “This experience has given me a critical view of the health-care system through the eyes of the most vulnerable patients. The opportunity to be an educator, advocate, and friend to these men has given me a perspective and understanding that I will carry into all aspects of my medical career.” 

Jonathan stated, “It was an absolute privilege to get to know the gentlemen who live at My Brother’s House. Their generosity in welcoming me into their home and sharing their stories has had a tremendous impact on my development as a medical professional. Interacting with the men on a daily basis enabled me to move beyond stigma and stereotype and meet truly fascinating individuals. These seven weeks have solidified the importance of always trying to discover not only the challenges that patients face, but also the courage that they possess.”

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On the Way Toward Bridging the Gap

Student Intern(s):
Wileen Blanchard, Temple University, College of Health Professions, Department of Nursing
Laura Mohler, Temple University, School of Medicine

Academic Preceptor(s):
Dianne Butera, MSW, Temple University, School of Medicine

Community Preceptor(s):
Sarah Erdo, Project H.O.M.E. Safe Haven Program, St. Columba
Robin Bonfield, Project H.O.M.E. Safe Haven Program, Women of Change

The Community Site:
Project H.O.M.E.’s St. Columba and Women of Change Safe Haven programs provide shelter for the chronically mentally ill homeless coming off the streets.  St. Columba is a men’s shelter located in West Philadelphia on the edge of University City. Women of Change is a women’s shelter located in Center City bordering the art museum area. View Community Partner Web Site

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Access to Health Care; Mental Health; Substance Abuse
Focus Areas:  Diabetes; Educational and Community-Based Programs; Mental Health and Mental Disorders; Oral Health; Substance Abuse

The Project:
Wileen and Laura designed a health education and promotion program for the men and women who reside at St. Columba’s and Women of Change. The program focused on topics such as cardiovascular health, diabetes, foot care and oral care. The interns provided the residents with basic health care techniques in an interactive format. Wileen and Laura compiled a drug guide for the staff to utilize when distributing medication to the residents and also compiled a list of resources in the communities surrounding both safe havens. The interns were also able to form relationships with the residents, allowing the residents to pass on the stories that few hear. 

Wileen commented, “Having the opportunity to participate in BTG has allowed me to be more aware of the reality of homelessness. I have learned so much about myself and the common misconceptions that I have had about homelessness and people that are homeless. There have been many challenges this summer, but with challenges there is an opportunity for growth.”  

Laura noted, “After the first week of spending time with the residents, I found myself treating others on the street differently; I said hello instead of ignoring them and I made an attempt to pass on a smile when possible. The staff at both safe havens also provided immense inspiration by demonstrating what it’s really like to be passionate about your work. I only hope that years from now I’ll be able to carry these things I’ve learned this summer into the hospital with me.”

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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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