BTG Hope

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BTG Community Preceptor
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Philadelphia Consortium Projects

Children & Youth

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Growing Green Communities Through Urban Gardening in Haddington

Student Interns:
Bonnie Bennett, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Health Professions, Department of Occupational Therapy
David Harris, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College
Ross Kalman, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College

Academic Preceptor:
Carl Pitts, PT, DPT, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Health Professions, Department of Physical Therapy

Community Preceptor:
Skip Wiener, Urban Tree Connection

The Community Site:
Urban Tree Connection is a community-based urban greening project that transforms abandoned open spaces into community gardens, providing fruits and vegetables to surrounding residents. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Environmental Health; Health Communication; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Bonnie, David and Ross worked on a farm and built relationships with community members who were also involved in producing fresh fruits and vegetables. The interns’ project was centered in a geographic area considered to be a food desert, a place where fresh and nutritious produce is not readily available for purchase. On the farm they supervised four high school students in planting, harvesting, composting, watering and constructing small structures, including a retaining wall, shed and greenhouse. Initially, the interns were surprised to learn how little people knew about what they ate, how food was produced, and other basic components of nutrition and health. The interns developed and implemented lessons that were age appropriate and focused on nutrition, healthy eating behaviors, physical activity, environmental stewardship, preventive health care and chronic disease. The interns and youth also sold the food from the farm at various farmers markets located both in the local community and throughout the city. David commented, “The work we did at Urban Tree was difficult, exhausting and fulfilling. Sharing the hard labor on the farm makes strong friendships develop quickly, and I feel fortunate to have befriended the others who work there. Along with the physical exercise comes a deepened understanding of food—its production, distribution and significance. It has been a fruitful summer!” Ross stated, “I spent my summer on an urban farm, and while battling the heat and humidity, I had the privilege to work with many dedicated people. … Our farm is an urban green space that brings people closer to the land right in their backyards as a source of delicious and nutritious food and better health. I am interested in the connection between unhealthy eating, physical inactivity and preventable illness, and I hope to get community members involved and invested in using their land to produce healthy food, and improving their overall health and well-being.” Bonnie reflected, “Working at Urban Tree this summer has been an eye-opening experience. It was rewarding to meet so many people from different backgrounds and to see how well we all worked together. I came into this experience expecting to be teaching the teens, but what I didn’t realize is that I would learn so much from them as well.”

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Giving Children the Tools to Lead a Healthy Lifestyle: A Summer Education Program at Cobbs Creek

Student Interns:
Jessica Kenemuth, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Mikaela Kislevitz, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

Academic Preceptors:
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Ann L. O’Sullivan, PhD, FAAN, CRNP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

Community Preceptor:
Geraldine O’Hare, MSN, CRNP, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Primary Care at Cobbs Creek

The Community Site:
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Primary Care at Cobbs Creek, located in West Philadelphia, provides primary care for newborns to adolescents. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Access to Health Care; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Jessica and Mikaela worked with their community preceptor to create and implement a waiting-room educational program that focused on topics pertinent to the community’s needs. The weekly themes were conveyed through interactive educational activities, posters and coloring books that were distributed to the children. Topics and activities were designed to meet the individual children’s various learning styles and included nutrition, physical fitness, summer safety, oral care, constipation and mental health. In addition, the interns created educational guides that provided parents and their children with information and community resources pertaining to the week’s theme. Jessica reflected, “Spending my summer at Cobbs Creek greatly expanded my perceptions and understanding of the West Philadelphia neighborhoods. After spending the past year in an academic bubble at Penn Dental, it was eye-opening to see how the people a mere five blocks from me live. … I was fortunate to make a small impact by teaching children about brushing and flossing, fitting children for new helmets, and educating families about nutrition and fitness.” Mikaela noted, “BTG provided me with a deeper understanding of different health care professions, such as dentistry, social work and creative arts therapy. With the future of medicine and health care it is important for different disciplines to collaborate and work together to provide the best care for the patient. I look forward to working with all components of the health care team in my future work as a nurse.”

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CWEP: Instilling Healthy Habits in the Generation of Tomorrow

Student Interns:
Ejodamen Ativie, Temple University, School of Podiatric Medicine
Nicole DeMarco, Temple University, School of Pharmacy

Academic Preceptor:
Nancy Rothman, EdD, RN, Temple University, College of Health Professions and Social Work, Department of Nursing

Community Preceptors:
Alexis Brown, MBA, Community Women’s Education Project, Early Learning Center
Diane Love, Community Women’s Education Project, Early Learning Center

The Community Site:
The Community Women’s Education Project (CWEP), located in Kensington, is a community-based educational facility addressing the social and economic inequalities affecting the community’s at-risk families. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Heart Disease and Stroke; HIV; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness; Tobacco Use

The Project:
Nicole and Eji developed a health education program for the children at the Community Women’s Education Project’s Early Learning Center that touched on several aspects of health. The program included teaching the preschoolers about good cardiovascular health, proper oral hygiene, healthy eating habits, general overall hygiene and the disadvantages of smoking. This health education program included discussions during circle time, games and hands-on activities, and stories and pictures to convey the program’s key points. Eji stated, “The BTG CHIP experience has really exposed me to situations and standards I would have otherwise not seen but only heard or read about in newspapers, magazines and on TV. It brings you closer to a community because you spend a lot of time each week with these kids. You get to know them on a much more personal level and see the future of tomorrow taking shape right before your very eyes. It has helped me professionally because I have to always keep in mind that individuals come from different backgrounds and experience things differently. I am glad I was part of this amazing experience.” Nicole noted, “Working with young children day after day at CWEP has taught me patience, which I will take with me and use in my career. Working in the community taught me a lot about myself and about how people come from different backgrounds with different upbringings. It has been a rewarding yet humbling experience.”

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Healthy Choices Summer Camp at Mander Playground

Student Interns:
Katherine Belazis, Drexel University, School of Public Health
Erin Clark, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy
Andrew Shoemaker, Drexel University College of Medicine
Ryan Wetzel, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Ellen Schelly-Hill, MMT, BC-DMT, LPC, NCC, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Community Preceptor:
Suku John, PhD, East Park Revitalization Alliance

The Community Site:
East Park Revitalization Alliance (EPRA) aims to empower residents to revitalize the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood through the arts, environment and education. EPRA operates out of the Mander Recreation Center, presenting the Healthy Choices Summer Camp for children aged 5 to 13 from the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Heart Disease and Stroke; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Katie, Erin, Andrew and Ryan worked alongside the staff at Mander Recreation Center to develop a day camp program that included interactive educational activities about health and wellness, with major focus on the relationships between physical activity, oral health and smoking and overall wellness. Activities included cooking fruits and vegetables from EPRA’s local gardens; physical activities such as hiking, swimming and sports; and numerous educational trips. A major goal of the project was to build strong bonds with the children by taking part in the scheduled events and through teaching, leadership and guidance. Erin reflected, “The combination of EPRA, Mander Recreation Center and the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood have provided me with the opportunity to have fun, try new things, step outside my comfort zone of rigid structure and, most importantly, spend time with some wonderful kids. … Getting to know the kids and the multitude of experiences they have already had in their short lives, some of which are extremely traumatic, has allowed me to gain a greater perspective of the neighborhood residents. This increased awareness will definitely be beneficial for understanding my clients as a future therapist.” Andrew said, “In a few short weeks it was interesting to see and understand the different issues, lifestyles and cultures that our kids at camp had in their community. Also, I learned that a good way to help a community is to first be very involved in it and gain their trust to establish a positive relationship. Having this experience has given me the skills to better work with a new community with which I am not familiar.” Ryan noted, “There are countless problems in medicine that are tied to social factors like SES and lack of access to healthy foods, but many physicians fail to understand such a community’s problems on more than an academic level. The opportunity to spend several weeks in the field has given me a clearer picture of the needs and values of a neighborhood that lacks many of the resources that the average person takes for granted, and it will surely help me to serve those in similar circumstances in the future.” Katie commented, “BTG has taught me the importance of building strong, healthy relationships. I’ve discovered that not only in the field of public health, but all disciplines will struggle with providing and creating better health for any population without first establishing a sense of trust and having the desire to build healthy relationships.”

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Be Your Own HERO!

Student Interns:
Sam Bak, Temple University, College of Health Professions and Social Work, Department of Occupational Therapy
David Goodman, Temple University, School of Podiatric Medicine
Sunny Patel, Temple University, School of Podiatric Medicine

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

Community Preceptor:
Doris Phillips, HERO (Helping Energize and Rebuild Ourselves) Community Center

The Community Site:
HERO (Helping Energize and Rebuild Ourselves) Community Center, in the Nicetown section of North Philadelphia, aims to help community members in need, especially children and seniors. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Health Communication; Injury and Violence Prevention; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
David, Sam and Sunny planned and implemented the daily activities for the summer camp at the HERO Community Center. By acting as positive role models and creating enjoyable, interactive activities, the interns aimed to help the children routinely engage in behaviors consistent with a healthy lifestyle. A major focus of the camp stressed the importance of dance and music for mental as well as physical health. The interns encouraged healthy eating habits through presentations and visits to the community garden and during lunchtime. The children had fun exercising, playing sports and competing in tournaments. David, Sam and Sunny participated in Friday field trips and used them as an opportunity to explore with the youth what it means to be a healthy person and to stress the importance of being active. Other activities included conversations about careers and future dreams, expression through art, conversations, and computer lessons on how to access resources. David stated, “I have participated in many community programs dealing with young children. Every time I am amazed at how much I am touched by the kids. HERO was no exception to that. It has been such an amazing experience to see their smiling faces every day and to help them have a productive, safe and fun summer.” Sam noted, “It has been an honor and pleasure to take part in helping these children to express and find themselves. … One of the biggest things I have learned is that when we find our identity, we grasp a sense of our purpose more clearly.” Sunny reflected, “Participating in the HERO summer camp has been one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable experiences of my life. Not only was I able to teach the children of HERO about health and wellness, but also they were able to teach me about themselves and their community. In doing so, I learned a great deal about myself.”

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Healthy Kids Begin With Healthy Hearts

Student Interns:
Hanwei Huang, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Program
Tahara Prescott-Palmer, La Salle University, School of Nursing and Health Sciences, Nursing Program
Rachele Tran, University of the Sciences, Samson College, Physical Therapy Department

Academic Preceptors:
Eugene Mochan, PhD, DO, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Kathleen H. Neumeister, RN, MSN, CSN, La Salle University, School of Nursing and Health Sciences
Ruth L. Schemm, EdD, OTR/L, University of the Sciences, Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policies, Department of Health Policy and Public Health

Community Preceptor:
Paulette Copeland-Bolton, Lee Cultural Center

The Community Site:
The Lee Cultural Center, located in West Philadelphia, hosts Camp Uplift, a summer day camp for neighborhood children aged 4 to 11.

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Environmental Health; Health Communication; Injury and Violence Prevention; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Hanwei, Rachele and Tahara designed a program for the children in the Lee Cultural Center’s camp that included general health discussions, sports activities, and arts and crafts. The interns created workshops on oral and cardiovascular health, highlighting prevention and realistic ways to set goals to achieve a healthier lifestyle. The campers learned the connection between calories and energy, physical activity, heart health and weight management. In addition, the youth received information about dental screenings and techniques to prevent cavities. Hanwei noted, “Prior to BTG my perspective on public health was very limited because I did not see the challenges many faced, even within their own communities. As a future health care provider I will have the insight to properly care for my patients in mind, body and spirit.” Tahara reflected, “BTG has given me a deeper insight into my role as a health care provider on a community level. I had the rare opportunity to view science and the art of healing through the eyes of children. As I gave lessons on health, they taught me about resilience and optimism.” Rachele mentioned, “BTG has allowed me to look beyond the imperfections in the realm of health care. It has given me the opportunity to take action towards making things better for a small community. It has also reminded me to always keep an optimistic frame of mind while moving forward with an air of expectation.”

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Healthy Bodies and Minds: Educating Youth at F.J. Myers Recreation Center

Student Interns:
Leslie Hirsh-Archer, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice
Melissa Dickerson, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing
Nicole Fernandez, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Jeffrey Draine, PhD, MSW, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice
Ann L. O’Sullivan, PhD, FAAN, CRNP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Edna Reddick, Francis J. Myers Recreation Center

The Community Site:
Francis J. Myers Recreation Center, a program of the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department, is a youth achievement center offering affordable, fun and safe summer programming for children in the neighborhood of Southwest Philadelphia. The summer day camp for youth aged 2 to 14 includes activities such as sports, arts and crafts, and day trips to various locations in the Philadelphia region. On an ongoing basis, the recreation center engages in community outreach and support to help improve the lives of the neighborhood residents by providing meeting space for groups, lectures and a farmers market, among other things.

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness; Responsible Sexual Behavior

The Project:
Leslie, Melissa and Nicole worked with Myers Recreation Center to create a health curriculum that focused on the importance of working toward and maintaining a healthy and safe body and mind. Each week had a slightly different focus, including physical activity and cardiovascular health; nutrition; dental health and hygiene; and physical, emotional and sexual health and safety. The final week of the program focused on making healthy choices in a world where marketing and convenience push for the opposite. The team provided education, activities and experiences based on the particular theme of the week and modified the curriculum so that it was appropriate for all ages of the summer camp program. Lesson plans were created and maintained for future Bridging the Gaps interns or others at the center who might be interested in continuing the program. Last, the team assisted the camp staff on a regular basis with camp-wide activities, such as chaperoning trips, engaging children individually and assisting with on-site events. Leslie stated, “The experience with Myers Recreation Center and BTG has afforded me the opportunity to expand not only my professional goals and personal understandings of my career but also the health profession and the perspective and roles of other disciplines. Having the opportunity to work with future professionals in different fields has taught me to constantly challenge my own understanding of a situation. Reframing problems to include perspectives from different disciplines is a worthy, necessary and valued exercise to provide empathetic services to our clients and to create compassionate teams across professions.” Melissa reflected, “Being a part of BTG has helped me to develop in unexpected ways. By working directly with a community at large, I have started to see a bigger picture that has helped me see firsthand why health care and health care access are important and vital to a healthy neighborhood and a healthy country. Working with BTG has strengthened my passion for healthy eating, nutrition education and food access. I know that my experiences from this summer will stay with me as I build my nursing career.” Nicole noted, “BTG has shown me that as a future dentist, one can be a great clinician, but that does not mean their patients are healthy. I hope to intervene and focus on health education not only to children but also … adults. Knowing the children’s background and getting to know the children as people has proved to be more beneficial than just treating their health needs.”

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Engaging Parents and Youth in Program Development

Student Interns:
Kathryn Souder, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice
Stephanie Wever, Drexel University, School of Public Health

Academic Preceptors:
Jeffrey Draine, PhD, MSW, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice
Candace Robertson-James, MPH, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
David Cicero Bevacqua, MS, Neighborhood Bike Works

The Community Site:
Neighborhood Bike Works (NBW) promotes youth development by offering educational, recreational and career-building opportunities through bicycling. One core program, Earn-a-Bike, teaches youth aged 8 to17 the basics of bike mechanics and allows them to keep the repaired bicycle when they complete the program. In addition to teaching mechanics, lessons on safety, nutrition and fitness are part of NBW’s educational mission. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Heart Disease and Stroke; Injury and Violence Prevention; Nutrition and Weight Status; Preparedness; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
For Katie and Stephanie the main project of the summer was to work with the community preceptor in designing an after-school leadership program for youth who have graduated from the Earn-a-Bike program and are between the ages of 14 and 18. Specifically, by creating and distributing a survey and by organizing and co-facilitating a parent and youth focus group, the interns assessed the needs and desires of the youth and their parents. In addition, Katie and Stephanie accompanied the riding team on practice rides each Monday, gave heart-healthy eating and lifestyle habits presentations to the youth in the summer camp (using educational resources created by past BTG interns), and engaged the youth through daily interactions at Neighborhood Bike Works. Katie noted, “Not only is NBW like a family and a refuge for many of the kids who participate in NBW’s programs, but it gives kids the opportunity to learn hard skills about bike mechanics; solid problem-solving skills; and important values about healthy living, the environment and respectfulness while building positive social relationships. I have been so impressed with the resilience, aptitude and independence of the kids I have met at NBW, and the experience has confirmed my desire to continue to work with youth in the future.” Stephanie commented, “Being at Neighborhood Bike Works has shown me the intersection of public health and community. NBW’s broad mission engages youth not only in physical activity, but also increases their social capital through civic engagement, development of job skills and increased self-esteem. I have been thoroughly impressed with the staff at NBW for their dedication to the lives of the students who walk through the doors of our bike shop.”

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Operation Make a Kid Smile

Student Interns:
Brett Chatman, Temple University, School of Podiatric Medicine
Kate Crossman, Temple University, College of Health Professions and Social Work, Department of Occupational Therapy
Stacy Grant, Temple University, College of Health Professions and Social Work, Department of Occupational Therapy

Academic Preceptor:
Nancy Rothman, EdD, RN, Temple University, College of Health Professions and Social Work, Department of Nursing

Community Preceptors:
Lisa Gass, Norris Homes, Norris Kids Camp
Eliza Johnson, BS, Temple Health Connection

The Community Site:
Norris Kids, a summer camp for youth, is located at the Norris Homes Community Center in North Philadelphia and is supported by the Temple Health Connection. The seven-week summer program is geared toward children aged 5 to 13.

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Injury and Violence Prevention; Nutrition and Weight Status; Preparedness; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Kate, Brett and Stacy worked with children who reside in the Norris Homes community and were participating in the Norris Kids Camp. The interns created the Operation Make a Kid Smile program, which involved a number of interactive recreational and educational activities and included sessions on nutrition, safety and other general age-appropriate health topics. Each activity was documented and outlined in a lesson plan format and then organized and stored in a portfolio that can be used as a guide for future BTG interns as well as the camp supervisors. Brett stated, “I am pleased with everything about BTG. From my site placement to the Wednesday meeting sessions, I have had a splendid experience: I learned a lot and was able to take away many valuable lessons. Overall, I had a wonderful time and would highly recommend the BTG experience to fellow first-year medical/professional students!” Kate said, “My experience with the BTG program and Norris Kids has helped to shape my life on both a professional and personal level. Through the nature of this internship, I was able to learn more about the importance of working in a multidisciplinary team as well as how to work with co-workers and clients from different socioeconomic backgrounds. The resiliency and character of the children who attend Norris Kids is something that I will never forget.” Stacy commented, “BTG has been a positive and beneficial experience for me. Not only did I learn much about various areas within the field of medicine, but I also learned how to effectively work alongside members of urban communities. Further, my experience at BTG provided me with insight into some of the issues that I might face as a medical professional, including language barriers, insurance policies and racial disparities.”

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Hope on the Horizon: Health, Happiness and Healing

Student Interns:
Ankita Mehta, Drexel University College of Medicine
Hannah-Ruth Miller, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Academic Preceptor:
Elizabeth Hartzell, PhD, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Community Preceptor:
Tariem Burroughs, BS, North Light Community Center

The Community Site:
The North Light Community Center, located in Manayunk, is a multi-service center that provides art and recreation programs as well as employment services and emergency support. During the summer, the center runs a full-day children’s camp during which the campers’ time is enriched through music, art and sports. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps 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:
Ankita and Hannah-Ruth worked with children at North Light Community Center’s day camp. They discussed basic health issues such as nutrition, oral health, emotional health and cardiovascular health during lessons with each age group (3 to 5, 6 to 7, 8 to 9 and 10 to12), and they taught the importance of physical activity during morning exercises attended by all the camp participants. The interns used techniques such as art, role-playing, categorizing, student presentations and team building to concretize key health concepts. When not teaching these lessons, Ankita and Ruthie spent time with individual age groups (Ankita with 6- to 7-year-olds and Ruthie with 3- to 5-year-olds), building relationships with the children and becoming part of the North Light community. Ankita reflected, “This internship has definitely been one of the best summers of my life. Spending time with the children was amazing; they challenged me, respected me, and truly taught me how confident and capable of a person I can be. These kids definitely made a place in my heart and have made this experience an unforgettable one. I’ve met people that I would have never been lucky enough to get to know in any other situation. … As a medical student, I never considered being a pediatrician; however, after this summer, who knows, that might be my calling.” Hannah-Ruth noted, “My experience this summer has been enriching and fulfilling. From the beginning of the summer, I thought it would be beneficial for the kids if I pushed them to do things on their own so they could become more independent. … I truly feel as though I have impacted many of the children’s sense of autonomy through this approach. This has been one of the most significant accomplishments of the summer, of my time at Drexel, and of all the work I have done with children so far.”

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Attitude Is a Small Thing That Makes a Big Difference

Student Interns:
Lajja Patel, Temple University, Kornberg School of Dentistry
Amie Shah, Temple University, Kornberg School of Dentistry

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

Community Preceptor:
Kevin Weber, Northern Home for Children

The Community Site:
Northern Home for Children’s Partial Hospitalization Program is a behavior-based program for youth aged 8 to 14 who are having behavioral or social difficulties. Structured activities, individual counseling, group therapies, academic enrichment, and participation in community sports and recreational activities foster and support self-understanding and responsible social interaction. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Injury and Violence Prevention; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Preparedness; Physical Activity and Fitness; Substance Abuse

The Project:
Lajja and Amie assisted the Northern Home staff with academic tutoring, physical activities and group problem-solving sessions. The goals for the summer were to encourage positive and consistent behavior, serve as role models and create a motivating environment for the youth. Each day started off with a community meeting, which outlined the day’s activities and goals for each child. Next, the kids moved on to academics, working on math, reading, writing and trivia worksheets. This was followed by clubs, which consisted of playing sports such as soccer, volleyball, hockey, basketball and baseball. The youth were coached during each session on both teamwork and individual skills. In the afternoon session the youth worked on group problem solving on topics such as conflict resolution, bullying, anger management, coping with change and emotions. The day ended with the children enjoying pool time and receiving daily reports that monitored their behavioral progress. Throughout the program the interns did various health presentations, including topics on cardiovascular and oral health. Amie commented, “Being a part of BTG this summer has been a truly rewarding experience. I was given the opportunity to work with a diverse group of kids who challenged me throughout the summer while simultaneously teaching me a great deal about the community we live in. What surprised me the most was the positive attitude of many of the kids despite the hardships they face. … I am fortunate for having been a part of this experience and being a part of the Northern Home family.” Lajja stated, “My summer at Northern Home has been challenging yet truly rewarding. Seeing the kids laughing and learning has made this experience so worthwhile. I have enjoyed every moment of it. Each day I go home with a smile on my face, and it has left me feeling more connected to the community. Working at Northern Home has been an insightful experience, and I am thankful for having the opportunity to work with such great kids.”

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Addressing Health Discrepancies to Promote Wellness Among Children in North Philadelphia

Student Interns:
Meredith Brunk, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Health Professions, Department of Occupational Therapy
Andrea McElroy, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Health Professions, Department of Occupational Therapy
Savun Sam, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Health Professions, School of Nursing

Academic Preceptor:
Caryn Johnson, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Health Professions, Department of Occupational Therapy

Community Preceptor:
Christine Whaley, MA, Project H.O.M.E., Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs, Restorative Practices

The Community Site:
Project H.O.M.E.’s Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs, located in North Central Philadelphia, provide educational and employment programs for community residents that integrate the arts, technology and literacy initiatives. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Environmental Health; Health Communication; Injury and Violence Prevention; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Andrea, Meredith and Savun worked at Honickman supporting the current curriculum for the fourth- and fifth-graders. The curriculum highlighted computer technology, literacy and mathematical skill building. To meet the project-based learning requirement for the summer, the interns also facilitated student-developed commercials. Through the process of creating these commercials, the interns had the opportunity to model, educate and discuss many public health issues with the students, including nutrition, exercise and self-image, conflict resolution, neighborhood safety and healthy decision making. The interns also spent time working individually with many students, recognizing their personal strengths and limitations, in order to tailor activities and opportunities to meet the social, educational and physical needs of each student. Andrea shared, “I have learned so much from working with these resilient and engaging children. I have been challenged to be flexible, to ask the right questions that identify their needs and make projects work with very little resources. These are valuable skills to have as I move forward in my professional career.” Meredith reflected, “With the information I gained through the BTG/CHIP curriculum, I now feel a greater responsibility for recognizing and addressing health disparities within my community, in order to promote wellness. Daily, I became aware of the impact that the environmental factors have on the overall wellness of children; yet, these students were resilient, determined and creative in overcoming many barriers. Overall, this experience broadened my understanding of health determinants and the definition of total wellness, thus preparing me to become a more knowledgeable, well-rounded and client-centered health professional.” Savun noted, “As a BTG intern, I have learned that better health starts with youth. We must not only focus on how we treat a person’s medical diagnosis but how we can improve the person as a whole. Health prevention is the key to many health conditions, but before we can teach about ways to prevent certain health problems, we must get down to the basics in education. We need to improve literacy in children in order to ensure adequate comprehension and compliance when it is needed.”

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Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education: Integrating Life Skills, Education, Tennis and Fitness Into the Lives of North Philadelphia Youth

Student Interns:
Emily Hejazi, Drexel University College of Medicine
William Hennon, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Diane Gottleib, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Ben Hirsh, Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center

The Community Site:
Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education (AAYTE) Center strives to enhance the quality of life of young people through tennis and education. The organization works primarily with children aged 4 to 18 from local underserved areas. Since 2005, Penrose Community Center, located in North Philadelphia, has partnered with AAYTE to provide the National Junior Tennis League (NJTL) program, enabling youth to participate in tennis instruction and compete with other NJTL community sites in Philadelphia. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Environmental Health; Injury and Violence Prevention; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Emily and William worked with Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education (AAYTE) through the National Junior Tennis League (NJTL) summer camp at Penrose and Mander Playgrounds and at Girard College. They served as coaches and instructors for the summer tennis league, providing guidance for novice through advanced players. They used tennis as a vehicle to teach campers about cardiovascular health and nutrition. In addition, they were able to use their life experiences to support, coach and develop professional relationships with promising teen tennis players. Emily and William counseled students on interpersonal interactions and violence prevention and taught lessons on life skills geared toward the importance of friendship, family, role models, community and health, and on leading and developing a successful life. Emily noted, “Working with AAYTE at Penrose Playground exposed me to the diversity of the Philadelphia neighborhoods. … My summer experience has provided me with a new understanding of inner-city disadvantaged youth as well as the strength of the community despite hardship. I have greatly improved my ability to interact and communicate with persons different from myself, as well as adapt to unique situations. I feel a stronger connection to my city.” William said, “The AAYTE program at Mander Playground was a welcome and worthwhile experience working and coaching young children and adolescents. … I was able to provide some life-skill lessons geared toward thinking critically about their lives and community through reading and writing exercises. Traveling through and visiting many different neighborhoods in the city allowed me to not only recognize and establish familiarity with the streets of Philadelphia, but also with its youth, their parents and their community. Finally, as a future physician, I gained communication skills and learned more about how the pediatric population sees life, unfamiliar situations and adults. Throughout the summer, I was able to dive deep into the youth population of Philadelphia, developing strong and caring relationships with my students.”

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