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Philadelphia Consortium Projects

Homeless & Transitional Housing

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Camp Artology

Student Intern(s):
Vanessa Bula, Drexel University, School of Public Health
Sarah Foster, Drexel University College of Medicine
Jessica LaBarca, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy
Danielle Owen, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

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, BS, Build-a-Bridge, International

The Community Site:
Build-a-Bridge, International, located in Germantown, 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. Artology is an educational summer camp that provides dynamic learning by integrating the arts and sciences in a rigorous curriculum. Artology is designed to serve youth coping with homelessness and poverty from Build-a-Bridge’s partner sites in North, West, and Northwest Philadelphia. View Community Partner Web Site 

Health People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Environmental Quality; Mental Health; Physical Activity
Focus Areas:  Educational and Community-Based Programs; Environmental Health; Nutrition and Overweight; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:  Vanessa, Sarah, Jessica and Danielle worked with the Artology staff to provide a summer program for youth aged 10 to 15. The interns assisted in preparing for the camp by assembling camp materials and supplies.  They also developed presentations highlighting careers in the arts and sciences. Once camp started, the interns served as group leaders, overseeing small groups of Artology students. Each day began with a motivational drum circle, which used rhythms, dance, and voice to encourage creative expression and foster a sense of community. In addition to field trips, which were designed to facilitate learning about environmental justice, ecology and the visual arts, the interns provided continued support for the students, assisting in reflection and response at the end of each day. Jessica said, “Witnessing a change in outlook, energy and motivation in the Artology campers and seeing meaningful relationships develop within the camp were among the most memorable experiences. In addition, working with the team of BTG interns at Camp Artology modeled how beneficial a unified and dynamic team can be, and the interdisciplinary collaboration was a major benefit to our work.”  Vanessa noted, “This summer at Camp Artology, I had the chance to open doors for the children to experience things they would not necessarily do on their own. … The City of Philadelphia and its recreational opportunities make a great classroom in which the children are exposed to the arts and sciences but also learn life's lessons.”  Danielle reflected, “For me it was a chance to learn how to establish clear boundaries and to be a consistent, reliable and caring figure in the lives of people who were depending upon me for guidance. This Community Health Internship has given me invaluable hands-on experience that will definitely inform the work I do as a dance/movement therapist.”  Sarah said, “Similar to the “Water Reflection” pieces photographed by the Artologists, I can foresee myself, a future physician, looking back with gratitude on this experience that combined my interests in art, science and humanity. My role as a group leader, through education, encouragement and support, motivated adolescents to recognize their potential. Likewise, it will be important to utilize these elements in facilitating change and instilling hope in patients. Most importantly, my role amongst an interdisciplinary team will influence my practice of medicine as a well-rounded art.”

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Bridging Life’s Transitions: Taking a Multifaceted Approach to Adolescent Well-Being

Student Intern(s):
Reena Ardeshna, Drexel University College of Medicine
Christina Kucher, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing
Jonathan Pham, Drexel University, School of Public Health
Kathy Totoki, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice

Academic Preceptor(s): 
Robert Chapman, PhD, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions
Jeffrey Draine, MSW, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice
Ann L. O'Sullivan, PhD, FAAN, CPNP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

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

The Community Site: 
Covenant House Pennsylvania (CHPA) Crisis Center, located in Germantown, seeks to support youth aged 18 to 21 in crisis, by providing shelter, support and care. The crisis 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:  Diabetes; Heart Disease and Stroke; Mental Health and Mental Disorders; Nutrition and Overweight; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:  Reena, Christina, Jonathan and Kathy worked with Covenant House Pennsylvania to address the diverse factors that influence the well-being of urban nomads between the ages of 18 and 21. Through discussions, activities, and planned events, the interns focused on topics such as stress management, cardiovascular health, leadership skills, and overall wellness throughout daily life. The team created a series of events and/or activities for different topic areas. The Physical Health series included a “Heart Smart” workshop, a nutrition game, a scavenger hunt and a running club. The Empowerment and Leadership series included sessions that culminated in Covenant House residents developing workshops that highlighted their talents and strengths. The Caffeinated Conversations series involved discussions around general mental health and life issues of importance to the youth’s daily lives and futures. Folded into these sessions were special events such as an opportunity to give back to the community through a Mural Arts community paint day, a visit to the Mütter Museum with discussions about the medical field, and an outdoor activity day. The underlying theme tying these events together was the idea of negotiating stability and change, while maintaining identity, through the transition from adolescence to young adulthood. The idea of overall health, both physical and mental, was used as the central construct influencing the ability to successfully bridge this transition. Christina said, “Collaborating with peers and clients of different backgrounds and disciplines has helped cultivate my understanding of wellness promotion and barriers to care at both an individual and community level. Specifically, I have expanded my perceptions of the mental and physical health challenges urban youth can face, and hope to reflect this comprehension in my future practice.” Kathy reflected, “One of my main goals coming into this internship was to be professionally challenged, an experience that BTG has indeed helped to facilitate. I have a passion for working in urban environments with underserved populations, and have been lucky enough this summer to expand my understanding of the multiple aspects that influence the well-being of adolescent urban nomads. My appreciation of the complex nature of individual and systems-level influences that shape our daily lives has been deepened. I am incredibly grateful for the insight the Covenant House residents have given me of human resilience, and for the relationships we have been able to build.” Reena said, “One aspect in dealing with patients that I have learned to appreciate more through BTG is the importance of incorporating an individual's strengths in caring for them. This is particularly important in my medical career, as there is a danger of physicians acting in a paternalistic way in caring for their patients, especially younger patients. … I noticed this individualized approach used in the Covenant House with adolescents to help them find jobs and housing, further their education, and improve their health. When I saw how happy the youth were in taking an active role while working with staff, I realized that this strategy could be successful with my future patients as well.” Jonathan noted, “BTG has helped me to view the world from several new perspectives and will help me to develop public health policies and programs that will address the many complex issues and challenges that homeless youth experience in their daily lives.  The residents of Covenant House have given me insight into their worlds and allowed me to witness the strengths that reside in each individual … the memories will continue to inspire me to work towards enhancing a system that can further assist underserved populations.”

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Snapshots of Life: Homelessness at Jane Addams Place

Student Intern(s):
Meaghan Henrici, Drexel University College of Medicine
Margarita Kats, Drexel University College of Medicine

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

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

The Community Site: 
Lutheran Settlement House’s Jane Addams Place, located in West Philadelphia, is an emergency homeless shelter for women and children. Residents of Jane Addams Place participate in programs and services aimed specifically at meeting their housing, health care, parenting and psychosocial needs. View Community Partner Web Site   

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Physical Activity; Overweight and Obesity; Access to Health Care
Focus Areas:  Educational and Community-Based Programs; Physical Activity and Fitness; Nutrition and Overweight; Health Communication; Maternal, Infant and Child Health

The Project:  Meaghan and Margarita had a two-part project while interning at Jane Addams Place. First, they worked to address the health and fitness needs of the children by designing and implementing interactive educational and arts and crafts activities. These activities included Germ Day, a re-creation of the food pyramid, and a fast food nutrition analysis. The second part of their project focused on developing a booklet for future interns, volunteers, and staff, which defined homelessness, outlined the shelter system, highlighted the Jane Addams experience, and presented the perspectives of resident families. Meaghan commented, “BTG has opened my eyes to the broader field of health in Philadelphia. … Before this summer, ‘homelessness’ to me was a vague, empty term, but now I have faces and experiences to carry onward. As I look forward to becoming a physician, I feel better prepared to see the world through my future patients’ eyes and address their health needs from a knowledgeable perspective.” Margarita noted, “Learning the importance of relating and communicating with a diverse population will not only help us be better physicians but also allow patients to be more willing to share their personal information. BTG, overall, opens our eyes to some of the injustices occurring in our communities. Becoming more sensitive to such issues is integral in the medical field since a large portion of our job focuses on making a connection with another human being.” 

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Loving Yourself: The Key to Recovery

Student Intern(s):
Amanda Davis, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College
Julia Tincu, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Health Professions, Department of Occupational Therapy
           
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, offers a comprehensive array of residential and professional social services for women and children without permanent housing. These include the provision of food, clothing, shelter, life skills and job readiness training, a parenting education program, and goal-oriented case management. Another component of Mercy Hospice is a soup kitchen that serves lunch to homeless and underserved women in the community and provides support services to these guests.

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Mental Health; Overweight and Obesity; Substance Abuse
Focus Areas:  Injury and Violence Prevention; Mental Health and Mental Disorders; Nutrition and Overweight; Substance Abuse; Tobacco Use

The Project:  Motivated by the theme of “loving yourself,” Julia and Amanda designed a summer of improving overall health through leisure and learning. The interns encouraged the women of Mercy to broaden their perspectives by introducing them to new experiences. Weekly outdoor movie nights, spa night, and games helped them learn how to take care of themselves as they continue to make their way through recovery. An educational trip to the Mütter Museum emphasized the importance of lifelong learning. Educational topics that were covered by the interns included cardiovascular health, oral health, nutrition, self-esteem and communication skills. The interns also spent time tutoring a few women in math and reading to prepare for their GED or college-level courses. To improve the physical well-being of the women, trips to the pool were organized, yoga classes were implemented, and walking was encouraged on outings. Julia noted, “As an occupational therapy student … I learned a great deal about the lives of these remarkable women and about the dedicated, warm and caring people who work with them. … What I learned raised as many questions as answers. … This will allow me to practice with an increased sensitivity and understanding for the context of these women’s lives.” Amanda reflected, “The women of Mercy have taught me so much about their lives, their struggles and their resilience through recovery. In doing so, they have touched the lives of all my future patients by showing me the importance of holistic practice. As a medical student, I can apply what I’ve learned and understand why listening to patients nonjudgmentally is crucial for good health and building trust.”

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Empowering the Homeless Community

Student Intern(s):
Julian Barkan, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson School of Population Health
Stephanie Riggins, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Health Professions, Department of Occupational Therapy

Academic Preceptor(s):
Robert Simmons, DrPH, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson School of Population Health

Community Preceptor(s):
Ashley Kraybill, 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 2020:
Leading Health Indicators:  Mental Health; Substance Abuse; Overweight and Obesity
Focus Areas:  Access to Quality Health Services; Diabetes; Heart Disease and Stroke; Mental Health and Mental Disorders; Substance Abuse

The Project:  Working with the staff at My Brother’s House, Stephanie and Julian assisted the residents in assessing their health needs and navigating through the health care system. The interns helped the residents to obtain health insurance, benefits, appointments and identification papers. They advocated for the health of the residents by assisting them in getting to their appointments. They facilitated discussions on a number of health topics, including hypertension, diabetes, exercise and nutrition. Julian and Stephanie also engaged the men in a self-assessment process to learn more about their backgrounds and what they wanted to accomplish. Julian and Stephanie taught the men of the house how to plant and take care of plants and provided the materials for the men to pot their own plants. In addition, they planned recreational activities such as going to the park, movies and miniature golf. Julian said, “As a student of public health I wanted to take what I learned in my classes and apply that knowledge directly to make a change in the homeless community. I quickly learned that the process is much slower than I wanted it to be. However, I learned a lot from my experiences about navigating through the health care system and better understanding the problem of homelessness. … I hope to use the knowledge gained during my experiences to make a positive change in the lives of the homeless community in the future.” Stephanie said, “I learned how to effectively communicate with the clients in order to understand their wants and needs while simultaneously gaining a greater appreciation of the inner workings of the health care system. These two facets allowed me to be completely client-centered as my partner and I worked to advocate for these men and empower them to obtain the services they needed. I feel that I can translate the skills I have learned during this time into my professional career.”

 

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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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