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BTG Community Preceptor
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Philadelphia Consortium Projects - 2016

Children & Youth

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Planting Seeds of Health & Wellness in South Philly

Student Interns:
Geovanny Balderas, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Niti Jethava, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Lauren Tempesta, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice

Academic Preceptors:
Zvi Gellis, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Community Preceptor:
Bethany Welch, PhD, Aquinas Center

The Community Site:
Located in South Philadelphia, the Aquinas Center was created and grown through the collaborative efforts of the parishioners of St. Thomas Catholic Church and the South Philly neighborhood. The Aquinas Center implements a variety of activities and programs, ranging from English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to yoga and hip-hop dance classes to summer camps such as the Green and Growing Camp. The site caters to an extremely culturally diverse population, including Mexicans, Vietnamese, Colombians, Indonesians, Filipinos and African-Americans. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at the Aquinas Center assisted with the Green & Growing Summer Camp, an educational and extracurricular summer program for 50 children in kindergarten through 6th grade. The interns conducted the health and wellness program block of the camp, focusing on cultivating awareness of various health-related topics. The interns coordinated interactive projects to promote knowledge of nutrition, heart health, oral health and hygiene, mental health, and appropriate practices to ensure health and safety in a variety of settings. The interns also provided one-on-one English language practice in the Aquinas Center’s weekly English Cafe, serving the diverse immigrant community of South Philadelphia, and acted as leaders in the Youth Voices summer camp, a program aimed toward local high schoolers with the goal of promoting place-making and entrepreneurship.

Personal Statements:
Lauren said, “I feel that I have been able to broaden my clinical skills through Bridging the Gaps and feel more equipped now to work with various client populations in my future practice. Working with my BTG colleagues was also an amazing experience, as I was able to learn more about the educational backgrounds, career paths and opportunities of medical professionals I will be working with throughout my own career. Niti, Geo and I were able to work as a team to provide a well-rounded and comprehensive perspective on health practices and utilize our own expertise to deliver that information in an easy-to-digest manner for kids in the camp.” Niti said, “Working at the Aquinas Center has been a very valuable and rewarding experience for me. It was eye-opening and inspiring to see how many different services the Aquinas Center provides for its community. I really enjoyed the opportunity to teach young children about how to keep themselves healthy. ... Working with my fellow BTG interns has also been a pleasure this summer. It was an effective way to learn more about their educational pathways and professional specialties. … I gained a lot of insight into the diversity of experiences of the people in this community.” Geovanny said, “My time at the Aquinas Center has been an extremely rewarding experience. I’ve seen the impact a few caring individuals can make on the lives of others in their community. I had the opportunity to practice important aspects of being an effective health professional, which include health education, interpersonal skills and being a good team member.”

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Building Healthy Habits Through Cooking and Games!

Student Interns:
Jin Lee, Drexel University College of Medicine
Sharvis Smith, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Academic Preceptor:
Jeremiah Goldstein, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Community Preceptor:
Maribel Arzuaga, BA, Centro Nueva Creación

The Community Site:
Centro Nueva Creación’s Goodlands Summer Camp promotes resilience in young people through educational enrichment and engagement with the arts and Latino cultures. The theme for the 2016 Goodlands Summer Camp was “Latino Healthy Habits.”  View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Centro Nueva Creación worked with children from kindergarten to 5th grade in the Fairhill neighborhood of Philadelphia. The interns taught healthy eating habits through a nutrition and cooking class and promoted physical activity through various games and swimming. They helped create an English/Spanish recipe book that described what the children made during their cooking classes, so that families could implement the healthy eating habits at home. Through the program, the summer interns built meaningful relationships with the campers and the staff members of Centro Nueva Creación. The program provides a way for children to have a fun, healthy summer.

Personal Statements:
Jin said, “This summer spent at Centro Nueva Creación was a challenging but rewarding experience. I have gotten close with the students and the staff members at the camp. Working with children with a wide range of ages encouraged me to be creative, adaptive, compassionate and loving. It was eye-opening to work in an unfamiliar neighborhood of Philadelphia where I was exposed to a culture and environment that was different than mine.” Sharvis said, “Spending my summer at Centro Nueva Creación has been a great experience. I was able to learn more about Latino culture, explore a community in a different neighborhood of Philadelphia, and use creative ways of teaching the students about how to be healthy and the importance of physical exercise. Through hands-on experience, I was able to gain a real sense of the care and concern that the staff at Centro Nueva Creación have for the students and others in their community.”

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Making Good Habits a Walk in the Park

Student Interns:
Jeff Bevan, Drexel University College of Medicine
Kaiwen Guo, Drexel University College of Medicine
Bali Gupta, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Ryan N. Schroeder, MD, Abington Jefferson Health

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

The Community Site:
The East Park Revitalization Alliance (EPRA) aims to empower residents to revitalize the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood through the arts, environment and education. EPRA joined with the Mander Recreation Center to present the Healthy Choices Summer Camp for children aged 5 to 12 from the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Environmental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness; Preparedness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at East Park Revitalization Alliance helped guide the campers, aged 5 through 12, at the Mander Recreation Center through their daily activities. Each camper’s family lives in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood near Fairmount Park, where the recreation center is located. The interns supervised the campers on weekly field trips to various historical locations in Philadelphia. The interns also facilitated several exercise, diet and health-related activities.

Personal Statements:
Kaiwen said, “I never thought I would have developed such meaningful and grounded relationships with the kids at Mander Rec. The face of each kid is permanently embedded in my memory. … I will take what I have learned to provide better patient-centered care in my future interactions.” Bali said, “It has been a privilege to work at Mander Recreation Center. We were awarded the opportunity to immerse ourselves into the lives of these young, genial children from the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood of Philadelphia. The program has completely changed how I interact with children — I am less interested in whether or not kids behave, but instead focused on the stories of their lives and how that may impact their health, decision-making and future. From this camp, I will definitely approach patients and people by trying to understand what defines their environment and how best to care for them in the context of their world.” Jeff said, “Working at the Mander Recreation Center has been extremely insightful. In medical school, I would listen to lectures about the realities of health disparities and try to absorb as much as possible. However, I did not truly understand the concepts of privilege, poverty and opportunity until I started working at the recreation center. I came to the realization that opportunity can be scarce where poverty is prevalent. I learned that the actions of others may be a result of their environment and not their inherent nature. My Bridging the Gaps experience allowed me to look through the eyes of individuals much different than myself. It will help me develop into a more compassionate, understanding physician.”

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The Myers Tots Learn a Lot!

Student Interns:
Shannon Ericson, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice
Keturah Peters, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing
Javed Umar, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Pharmacy
Annie Zhao, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Zvi D. Gellis, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Ann L. O’Sullivan, PhD, FAAN, CRNP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

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 in Southwest Philadelphia offering affordable, fun and safe summer programming for children aged 2 to 15. 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, after-school care and a farmers market, among other things. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The BTG student interns worked together to provide health education programming to the tots camp and adolescents at Myers Recreation Center. The activities focused on oral health, public and fire safety, and nutrition, with emphasis on daily exercise, necessary macronutrients and healthy habits. Weekly science experiments taught important concepts such as the color spectrum, the scientific method and basic chemical reactions. These programs were meant to spark early interest in health and wellness and in the sciences.

Personal Statements:
Annie said, “The several weeks that I spent at Myers Recreation Center has been an incredibly unique experience. Bridging the Gaps allowed me to work directly with the surrounding community and recognize firsthand the health disparities that affect so many. Working with an amazing interdisciplinary team, we were able to positively address many of the health concerns, an experience I’m so thankful for.” Javed said, “While the primary age group of our children was ages 3 to 5, working at the Myers Rec Center provided an opportunity to work with kids of all age groups. As this was my first experience working with children, it helped foster communication skills with the youth — an essential component of my future career as a pharmacist. It was truly rewarding to teach the children foundational topics in health and science, and working with an incredible interdisciplinary team made it an educational experience not just for the children but for our BTG team as well.” Keturah said, “As a BTG intern at Myers Recreation Center I had the opportunity to further explore and learn about the Philadelphia community, allowing me to have a deeper understanding of the issues being faced within this population. As an interdisciplinary team, we were able to use our educational backgrounds to promote healthy lifestyles amongst the youth we worked with.” Shannon said, “My time as a BTG intern at Myers Recreation Center was truly an exciting and educational experience. Having the opportunity to work with such young children, something I had never done before, allowed me to see a population I have previously worked with from a different perspective. Also, by working with an interdisciplinary team, we were able to see issues through our different professional lenses, therefore allowing us to gain a better understanding of the community.”

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Summer at HERO Kids Camp

Student Interns:
Danny Dao, Temple University, School of Pharmacy
Youngmin Lee, Temple University, School of Pharmacy
Matthew Roland, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine

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

Community Preceptors:
Yvette Davis, HERO
Doris Phillips, HERO

The Community Site:
HERO provides a well-balanced home environment for underserved families, helps to reduce crimes and teen pregnancies, provides children with opportunities to excel academically and socially, and operates a summer camp. It serves as a conduit for the community to work together to address their needs for education, jobs, nutrition, parenting, housing and nurturing. HERO is a nonprofit community-based organization serving the Nicetown/Tioga community of North Philadelphia. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
This summer at HERO, the Bridging the Gaps student interns planned and coordinated healthy-living presentations and activities to educate and encourage campers to be mindful of healthy habits. Their activities focused on nutrition, heart health, physical fitness, oral health and stress management. The interns facilitated a fun, friendly and safe environment to engage the camp’s children, many of whom had few or no other affordable options to spend their summer. Additionally, interns organized fund-raisers to help support summer activities.

Personal Statements:
Youngmin said, “It was a challenge working at HERO this summer but definitely a rewarding time of understanding the community on a much deeper level. Developing relationships with campers and learning about their families and friends broadened my perspective and taught me how much influence the environment can have on the health of an individual. I believe that my deepened perspective and understanding of community will allow me to build better patient relationships and provide better patient-centered health care in my future career.” Danny said, “Having little experience with children, this summer has tested my limits. The most difficult aspect of planning activities for the summer camp was getting the children engaged, while the most rewarding aspect was children’s enjoyment after successfully getting them engaged. My takeaway from this BTG experience is to work patiently and empathetically with the client, making certain they receive and understand all of the important aspects of their medication.” Matthew said, “Working at HERO has been a challenging yet heartwarming experience. One thing about working with my camp group, 11- to 13-year-olds, is that I am reminded of how critical and sometimes even confusing a time that can be in a young adult’s life. They’re old enough to comprehend the realities presented to them, yet still trying to figure out how to respond to them. … Working with HERO’s summer camp has reminded me of the importance of honesty, patience and empathy in developing a sense of trust with those I will interact with on a daily basis, patients and otherwise, as well as my community at large.”

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Tennis, Where Children Begin by Loving All

Student Interns:
Ivonne E. Martinez, Drexel University College of Medicine
Abhishek Patel, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Daniel Taylor, DO, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Community Preceptor:
Ben Hirsh, Legacy Youth Tennis and Education

The Community Site:
Legacy Youth Tennis and Education (LYTE) has a mission to prepare young people, especially from under-resourced families and communities, for success as individuals and as active, responsible citizens through innovative tennis, education, life skills and leadership development programming. LYTE is associated with several parks and playgrounds throughout Philadelphia that host camps for children aged 6 to 17. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Injury and Violence Prevention; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness; Preparedness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Legacy Youth Tennis and Education (LYTE) worked as assistant coaches at the Hunting Park site. The interns aided the head coaches by teaching approximately 30 students, aged 7 to 15, how to play tennis. To ensure complete engagement, the students’ daily routines also included other physical activities, such as swimming and various other sports. As assistant coaches, the interns had to work not only as role models and skill developers but also as frontline supporters for the students. Throughout the seven weeks, the interns helped the students develop new skills that will benefit the students both on the tennis courts and in their daily lives.

Personal Statements:
Ivonne said, “I truly feel blessed for having been given the opportunity to work through LYTE at the Hunting Park site because I had the privilege of working with a very special group of children. Although, I must admit, it was initially difficult to work with such a great range of that many children at once, it was an experience that shaped the way I now think and act around this specific type of population.” Abhishek said, “This summer with LYTE at Hunting Park will be an experience I will carry with me every day. From my supervisors at the site to the kids there, everyone had something which I could learn from. It’s really special to see how kids can start picking up a new sport and start applying some lessons learned to their lives. In the future, I hope to work with these kids as a professional and continue to help them grow.”

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Kids Shine Bright at North Light

Student Interns:
Meli’sa Grier, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy
Candice Mazon, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Leslie Everts, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
John Jacobs, MS, North Light Community Center

The Community Site:
Part of the Greater Philadelphia Federation of Settlements, North Light has been serving the Manayunk neighborhood since 1938. North Light Community Center is a place where children come to learn and play, where their parents come for advice and assistance, and where neighbors meet to discuss community issues and forge solutions. North Light serves all members of the community. Programs include an after-school program, a food cupboard, a computer lab and a summer camp. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Infant and Child Health; Nutrition; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked side by side with head counselors to assist them during the summer camp hosted by North Light Community Center. Typical days at North Light included supervising the young campers during meals and activities. The interns also supervised the junior counselors and counselors-in-training in tasks such as cleaning up after meals. In addition, interns led lessons for the different age groups, including talking about what the heart is and activities to make it stronger, introducing concepts on aerodynamics and making hoop gliders, and learning about renewable energy and creating windmills.

Personal Statements:
Candice said, “Getting the privilege to be invited to work with the staff and young campers at North Light led me to a summer of personal growth. To be able to engage with the very own neighborhood that I live in made me feel more like a resident instead of a visitor and taught me the importance of learning about my community. More significantly, learning to see the world in each of the young campers’ eyes taught me valuable lessons on empathy, tolerance and how to make a connection in the most humanistic level that will surely help me become a better physician and a better person.” Meli’sa said, “Receiving the honor of working as a Bridging the Gaps intern this summer at North Light Community Center will forever stay with me as I go further into my career as a dance/movement therapist and counselor. The experiences I was able to share with both the staff and the students allowed me to gain further insight about myself and how I relate to others. Becoming an integrated member at North Light this summer expanded my capacity to empathize as well as my awareness of the various perspectives embedded in the Philadelphia community. I feel that going on from here I will encompass everything I have learned about seeing more than just the person in order to meet them where they are within my future client relationships, while cherishing the relationships I built at North Light.”

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Northern Children’s Summer Experience

Student Interns:
Allison Richman, Temple University, College of Public Health, Occupational Therapy Program
Melissa Skahan, Temple University, College of Public Health, Occupational Therapy Program

Academic Preceptor:
Jacquee K. Lukawski, MEd, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Kevin Weber, Northern Children’s Services

The Community Site:
The mission of Northern Children’s Services is to build the self-confidence and resilience of at-risk children and their families. Two ways they do this are through a partial hospitalization program and a wellness and resiliency program. For youth aged 8 to 14, both programs offer nonresidential, behavioral-based therapeutic services. The programs foster self-understanding and positive social interactions through structured activities, individual and group therapy, academic enrichment and therapeutic recreation. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Environmental Health; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness; Oral Health

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Northern Children’s Services (NCS) primarily provided individualized tutoring sessions that catered to the academic needs of each child. Along with educational tutoring, interns promoted healthy living through educational workshops based on health topics from HP 2020 and a related activity. All sessions promoted positive reinforcement and healthy coping strategies.

Personal Statements:
Allison said, “Although our time at NCS was short, it was packed with many valuable educational moments for the kids and myself. This opportunity allowed me to see firsthand how resilient and loving children can be even when facing the most difficult adversity. Throughout my career I will carry my experiences at NCS and all of our BTG health-based lectures with me in order to provide the best care for my patients.” Melissa said, “I was astounded by the resilience of the children I worked with at NCS and the motivation they exhibited for a brighter future. I have learned that a supportive environment can make all the difference and that you can always find a way to relate to someone. I will never forget the wonderful experiences I had during the Bridging the Gaps program and hope to embody what I have learned in my future health care experiences.”

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A Healthy Lifestyle Starts Here: Health Education Through Athletics

Student Interns:
Chelsea Nemeth, Drexel University College of Medicine
Benjamin Shpeen, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Ronald Comer, DSW, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Behavioral Health Counseling Department

Community Preceptors:
Terry Dougherty, MEd, Philadelphia City Rowing
Sarah Pivonka, BS, Philadelphia City Rowing

The Community Site:
Philadelphia City Rowing (PCR) seeks to empower local public school students through the sport of rowing, which teaches discipline, perseverance and teamwork, reinforcing invaluable lessons that extend into all areas of life. By increasing access, affordability and diversity, we can promote the sport of rowing in the United States and add depth to the athletic pool. All Philadelphians should have access to the natural waterways and the rich rowing history of their city. PCR seeks to establish a public school rowing team that is competitive locally, regionally and nationally. We use competitive rowing as a vehicle to improve the health, well-being, self-confidence and academic success of Philadelphia’s public school students. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Health Communication; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness; Preparedness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Philadelphia City Rowing (PCR) began the summer by teaching swimming lessons to middle school and high school campers. Besides teaching the campers an important safety and life skill, the swimming lessons allowed more campers to actually get on the water once the rowing portion of camp began. These experiences allowed the campers to enhance their personal and social responsibility by interacting with other campers of different backgrounds, setting goals for themselves and learning new skills together as a team. During each camp session, the interns also gave interactive health education talks about nutrition and oral health to enhance the campers’ knowledge about healthy eating, sports nutrition and proper oral hygiene while incorporating group work to enhance the team-building experience.

Personal Statements:
Ben said, “PCR provided an excellent opportunity to enhance my skills working with adolescents and young adults. The campers were put in positions that may have been outside of their comfort while in the pool and on the boat in the Schuylkill River. By providing consistent reinforcement as well encouraging teamwork with their peers, each camper was able to see growth in their skills as a swimmer and as a rower. It was wonderful to see the delight the campers had as they began to excel in areas they did not believe they could. Despite minimal experience with rowing, the relationships built during the swim camps in prior weeks allowed the campers to have trust in me as a coach and as a team member.” Chelsea said, “My Bridging the Gaps experience with PCR gave me the opportunity to learn how to really interact with adolescents and act as a coach, teammate and role model. It provided me with the experience of working with students from many different backgrounds to accomplish the same goal of learning how to row. I did not have any rowing knowledge prior to working with PCR, so this experience was also great practice for learning how to teach kids while totally out of my own comfort zone.”

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Puentes Hacia el Futuro Literacy Camp

Student Interns:
Cindy Munguia, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Melanie Santos, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

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

Community Preceptor:
Esther Morales, Puentes de Salud
Alexandra Wolkoff, Puentes Hacia el Futuro

The Community Site:
The mission of Puentes de Salud is to improve the health and wellness of the Latino community in South Philadelphia by providing health care and by addressing the social factors that influence long-term health outcomes, such as education, literacy and socioeconomic status. The Puentes Hacia el Futuro program is one of Puentes’ social services; it addresses these fundamental issues by providing tutoring and literacy support as well as art, culture and health education to children in the community. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked with the Puentes community leaders to create a rich, safe and fun learning environment for students aged 7 to 12. The interns also worked to support the students’ overall positive development, including their academic, emotional and social well-being. The goal of summer camp was to create a rich and fun learning environment for campers. Interns aimed to create a love of reading and writing and increase literacy levels for students in 3rd through 6th grades through various themed weeks of bilingual English and Spanish literacy. The interns also addressed and led an oral health lesson discussing cardiology, oral health and oral hygiene. In addition, they led a discussion on the risk factors of heart disease and healthy lifestyles. The interns participated in daily morning lessons focusing on specific reading and writing skills, promoting various writing techniques such as simile, metaphor, personification, poetry and journalistic writing.

Personal Statements:
Cindy said, “Having the opportunity to work with these Mexican-American children through Puentes Hacia el Futuro was more rewarding than I could have imagined. As a daughter of Mexican immigrants and being the first child born in the United States, I have faced many of the same challenges as the children I worked with. I have learned that even though these children are very young, they can grasp very mature concepts and know a lot about politics and the world around them. I see so much potential in each one of the students as they cross milestones in their reading and writing each week. Being able to instill in them how important literacy is for their future and being able to be a role model for them is unparalleled and something everyone should have a chance to do in their lifetime.” Melanie said, “For the past seven weeks, I have spent my summer working with some of the most talented, compassionate, intelligent and brave students I have ever engaged with. When I decided to apply for an internship at Bridging the Gaps, I knew I wanted to find some outlet to give back to the Philadelphia community I have grown to love. However, I never expected to have this internship affect me on such a personal and emotional level. I fully believe that though my job as a co-coordinator was to help instruct these children throughout the summer, I have learned more from them than they have from me. The insights these children have at such a young, tender age astound me every day. They are wise beyond their years due to the many circumstances they had to face growing up as Mexican-American immigrants.”

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Early Education on Health and Community

Student Interns:
Matthew Kor, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine
Samantha Lumetta, Temple University, College of Public Health, Occupational Therapy Program

Academic Preceptor:
Tariem A. Burroughs, MSODL, MSEdEE, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Kelly Devlin, MSW, Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence

The Community Site:
The Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence, in North Philadelphia, is an emergency housing program for families and children. While the parents are provided parenting and life skills lessons, the children have the opportunity to attend after-school and summer enrichment programs. The shelter protects and assists families on their journey to self-sufficiency. During the summer of 2016, Bridging the Gaps interns collaborated with the staff as camp counselors to coordinate and operate a free day camp. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns provided interactive health lessons and encouraged the children to take responsibility for their health. By encouraging and developing positive relationships, they helped children to be comfortable seeking assistance. Twice a week the interns presented and engaged in activities with the children on Healthy People 2020 topics and the benefits of preventive health care. The interns also facilitated the children’s engagement with community resources and educational institutions by helping to organize and participate in trips to community sites such as the Francisville Playground and the Lewis Katz School of Medicine.

Personal Statements:
Matthew said, “BTG not only altered my perspective on community health and social responsibility but also strengthened my belief in the importance of preventive health care and the early introduction of health education. Learning about the different circumstances that led to the children living in the shelter and interacting with the children during the summer increased my awareness of the need for interprofessional collaboration in assisting the children with how they learn and grow. Ultimately, I was reminded of how I should never judge the children for their choices of actions and should instead provide a safe environment where we work together to make better decisions.” Samantha said, “BTG has been a reminder of the basic human need of connection and for someone to listen and validate a person’s feelings. The act of listening and bearing witness to a person’s experience helps the person to find acceptance and possibly move past their struggles. A sense of belonging is important for anyone experiencing a personal difficulty.”

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Promoting Healthy Lifestyles in Summer Camp Students

Student Interns:
Stephanie Chang, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing
Katherine Mills, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Kerona Sharpe, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Population Health

Academic Preceptors:
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Ann L. O’Sullivan, PhD, FAAN, CRNP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing
Robert Simmons, DrPH, MPH, MCHES, CPH, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Population Health

Community Preceptor:
Lorraine Thomas, Southwest Community Development Corporation

The Community Site:
The Southwest Community Development Corporation, locally referred to as Southwest CDC, tackles issues facing low-income Southwest Philadelphia residents through services such as utility and rental assistance, housing and employment counseling, family services and economic development planning. Since 1999 Southwest CDC has planned and organized a free summer camp for children at the John M. Patterson Elementary School. The seven-week day camp provides free educational and recreational activities and nutritious breakfasts and lunches for the campers. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Heart Disease and Stroke; Infant and Child Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked in collaboration with the Southwest Community Development Corporation staff and the camp leaders to provide meaningful and educational activities to participants of the Patterson Summer Camp. Students at the summer camp met with the interns twice a week to learn about their bodies, the importance of staying healthy, and methods to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The interns developed lesson plans that touched on health issues pertinent to the patient population, such as oral health, bullying, emotional health, physical activity, cardiovascular health and healthy eating. The sequence of lessons was developed in accordance with anatomical areas and systems to allow focus on each body system, and each session incorporated interactive activities to help the children learn more from a hands-on perspective and make the lessons more memorable.

Personal Statements:
Katherine said, “Interning at Patterson School through Bridging the Gaps and Southwest CDC provided a truly amazing summer experience. Through their [the students of Patterson School] involvement in group activities, their active presence, and their deep and invigorating questions, they indicated their interest to rise above socioeconomic and social stereotypes and make a resounding impact on their communities and their lives.” Kerona said, “It has truly been a privilege to be entrusted to work with a team of interns and others who work with the Patterson Elementary School children all year round. … This experience has taught me many things about the factors that may ultimately affect the health of these children for better or worse. I am honored to have had a small window of opportunity into their lives to hopefully affect some sort of positive reinforcement of the good habits they held and helping to provide education so they could have the tools to possibly make better choices against the unhealthy habits. … Bridging the Gaps and working for Southwest CDC has given me a backstage view of similar programs that I benefited from as a child in the Bronx that aimed to help us children in troubled neighborhoods. I have gained even more appreciation for those who gave to me, and I am so glad that BTG and SWCDC gave me the opportunity to do the same for our future generation!” Stephanie said, “In working with this community, I realized not only the importance of promoting a healthy lifestyle at a young age, but also the difficulties that underlie developing healthy habits within this community. I was constantly surprised by how much children actually notice and found myself having to adjust not only the lesson plans we developed but my own behaviors so that my actions were not adverse to the lessons. The biggest challenge for me was knowing that we would be with these students for only a few weeks. The first days of class we had them tell us their names and what they wanted to be when they grew up, and I constantly wondered and still wonder how their futures will turn out to be, and whether or not we truly made a difference as temporary figures in their lives.”

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St. Christopher’s Hospital Back-to-School Carnival/Health Fair

Student Interns:
Jaime Snyder, Drexel University College of Medicine
Nicole Updegrove, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Academic Preceptor:
Katie McPeak, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Community Preceptors:
Katie Feehan, MPH, CHES, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children
Renee Turchi, MD, MPH, FAAP, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

The Community Site:
The Center for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CCYSHCN) of St. Christopher’s Hospital provides coordinated, comprehensive, family-centered medical care that improves access to services, community resources and advocacy to ensure that children obtain the support they need while promoting their independence. The CCYSHCN’s medical home model effectively provides resources and addresses the barriers that would otherwise prevent a patient and his or her family from living out a healthy life. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Disabilities Conditions; Health Communication; Infant and Child Health

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns helped plan the Sixth Annual Back-to-School Carnival for the North Philadelphia community. The carnival is a fun and educational event that provides health resources to community members. Children who attend the event receive free backpacks with school supplies for the upcoming school year. Student interns organized donors, health vendors and volunteers for the carnival. In addition to planning the carnival, the interns were given the opportunity to shadow various health care professionals during the Next Steps Clinic and to interact with children in the waiting room.

Personal Statements:
Nicole said, “I learned financial, organizational and time management skills planning the carnival event for St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. It was wonderful working with another BTG student who was in a different profession. Our different experiences and knowledge in our first years of graduate and medical school seemed to allow for great conversations and many learning opportunities, helping me to network outside of my profession. An opportunity I thoroughly enjoyed when working in the Center for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs was being able to color and draw with children in the clinic waiting room. It brightened my day to be able to stop working on carnival logistics and see children’s smiling faces.” Jaime said, “Being able to shadow physicians in the clinic as well as talk with all the staff about their roles and responsibilities really helped shape my understanding of the medical team. Seeing how all these individuals work together to be advocates for these patients and how important every single person is in the care of the families helped me realize what it truly takes to give patients the best quality care possible. Through shadowing physicians in the clinic, I learned about the special health care needs of this population, and through planning the carnival/health fair, I gained organizational, financial and communication skills, all of which will be invaluable as I continue on in my career path. This new knowledge of various health professions will help me to work more effectively on a medical team in the future, and I am very grateful that St. Chris was a part of this personal growth.”

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Connecting Children With Health

Student Interns:
Egla Haxhaj, Temple University, School of Pharmacy
Tiffani Tran, Temple University, School of Pharmacy

Academic Preceptor:
Jacquee Lukawski, MEd, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Charmaine Sudler Milligan, To Our Children’s Future With Health, Inc.

The Community Site:
To Our Children’s Future With Health, Inc. (TOCFWH), is a community-based nonprofit agency established in 1992. Its mission is to empower youth, adults and communities toward healthy living by providing comprehensive community health and education services. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked with youth in the To Our Children’s Future With Health programs to help them learn about healthy lifestyle choices, the impact of sugar in their diet and oral health. They provided lessons on understanding the difference between medicine and candy, some of the consequences of mistaking the two, and how to handle such situations. The interns also reviewed information about the poison control hotline. Other activities included individual and group reading sessions where the children polished their reading skills. Interns assisted in the physical activity and fitness programming and participated in a town hall curriculum project where the children learned about the various elements of making a town work: participating on town council; being teachers, librarians, police officers, etc.; and organizing businesses. This helped them with a range of literacy and skill development, including math, organizational strategies and reading comprehension.

Personal Statements:
Egla said, “The BTG experience was one of a kind. I had the opportunity to help children learn, and at the same time I had to step out of my comfort zone and become a guide and a teacher to them but also maintain a friendly relationship. We had the chance to do different projects together, from spelling words to going on field trips, all of which helped the children and me grow.” Tiffani said, “This BTG experience has been a unique experience. I have worked with children before, but this is my first time working with youth for a long term. The more important lesson I learned from this summer is that it is important to create a comfortable environment for the children to learn and grow, but also I needed to be the authority figure when needed. Teaching the children about health and helping them with their projects throughout summer has been an enjoyable and valuable experience.”

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Urban Blazers: Fostering Children’s Innate Curiosity and Sense of Adventure Through Hiking

Student Interns:
Christine Quake, Drexel University College of Medicine
Amber Ransom, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy
Kirsten Sanders, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy
Margaret Vido, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Program
Rebecca Welcher, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Program

Academic Preceptors:
Blair Dickinson, MD, MS, FAAP, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children
Pat Lannutti, DO, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Eric Dolaway, Urban Blazers

The Community Site:
Urban Blazers is an organization that exposes youth from under-resourced areas around Philadelphia to the natural gems of the Fairmount Park system through hiking and other outdoor activities. Using trails within the community and games that improve team-building and communication skills, Urban Blazers creates knowledgeable, confident and competent youth with healthy lifestyles and relationships. The three main rules for all Urban Blazers activities exemplify what the organization hopes the youth take away from their experiences: Respect yourself, respect others and have fun. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Environmental Health; Injury and Violence Prevention; Mental Health; Physical Activity and Fitness; Preparedness

The Project:
The BTG student interns spent their summer engaging with kids from many different local communities and sharing Fairmount Park hiking trails with them. The interns challenged the children to step out of their comfort zones and encouraged them to interact positively with nature. With a focus on building teamwork and confidence, the BTG interns played skill-building games and educated children about nature through hiking and sensory play. To promote local use of the Boxers’ Trail, the BTG interns created online and print resources based on a survey designed by the BTG interns and given to the local community.

Personal Statements:
Christine said, “Words cannot adequately express how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to be a part of the Urban Blazers mission this summer. … I have loved getting to know the kids and feel so privileged that they have welcomed me and my fellow interns into their lives for the summer. They have inspired me. … The kids I have met this summer have inspired me to remember to use my voice to advocate for them and other kids like them that live in forgotten and marginalized communities, as they deserve so much more.” Amber said, “As a person entering a health-related profession, I consider myself a lifelong learner. Bridging the Gaps has provided additional opportunities to prepare for collaboration outside a classroom setting. Though working with Urban Blazers is not directly comparable to working as a dance/movement therapist, through this internship I have gained further insight into the human condition and practiced skills that will help foster therapeutic relationships and personal connections throughout my future career.” Kirsten said, “Bridging the Gaps has allowed me to experience life outside of the city. I am grateful to have been able to get to know such excitingly curious, adventurous kids and watch them explore and create in nature. This experience has been beautifully engaging, fostering growth and exploration through the leadership of the amazing people I get to call my team.” Rebecca said, “This summer I’ve had the most fun engaging and immersing myself in a population that I hope to one day serve in my medical practice. I learned a lot about really seeing a person for who they are regardless of where they come from or what they have. Not only did I have a great time unleashing my inner child this summer, but I have most certainly enjoyed seeing the love of nature and adventure grow in the children’s eyes.” Margaret said, “Urban Blazers has been a valuable summer experience made even better by my great BTG team members! Through hiking we were able to engage children with nature in a fun way while encouraging them to explore awesome trails and parks right in their communities. I learned a lot about leadership and teamwork, skills I will be able to carry forward.”

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Love & Urban Gardening

Student Interns:
Boris Kevin Bayemi, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Pharmacy
Elizabeth Shanahan, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Academic Preceptor:
Rickie Brawer, PhD, MPH, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Mary Hess, PharmD, FASHP, FCCM, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Pharmacy
James Plumb, MD, MPH, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Community Preceptors:
Noelle Warford, LSW, MSW, Youth Program, Urban Tree Connection

The Community Site:
Urban Tree Connection works with residents of the West Philadelphia Haddington neighborhood to develop community-driven greening and gardening projects on vacant land. Through land revitalization, UTC helps residents become strong leaders, fosters deep community cohesion and creates livable communities. UTC’s goals include providing access to fresh fruits and vegetables in the food desert areas of West Philadelphia. Members of the community can get involved by allowing some of their land to be used as gardens and helping to maintain the sites. The organization also tries to spread information about sustainability, including a neighborhood compost program. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Environmental Health; Health Communication; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Heart Disease and Stroke; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked with Urban Tree Connection staff to run afternoon programs at Memorial Children’s Garden in Haddington. The interns designed games and interactive activities to introduce children aged 5 to 13 to various topics in health and nutrition, including the circulatory system, the digestive system and the physiological roles of vitamins and minerals. The interns were also responsible for daily maintenance of the Memorial Children’s Garden, which involved tending to crops and soil, weeding, watering, composting, harvesting and organic-safe pest control. Once the interns became comfortable with these tasks, they incorporated garden maintenance work into the afternoon children’s programs, in keeping with Urban Tree’s mission to increase community involvement in gardening projects. Each week, interns helped facilitate character-building and teamwork activities with teen apprentices, including preparation of a community meal.

Personal Statements:
Boris said, “When my BTG partner and I were designing health care–orientated games I also noticed how practitioners can easily be contributors to this [health literacy] problem; we have trouble speaking about health care in a casual manner. In addition, we often make assumptions about patients’ health literacy, which, in most cases, usually does not result in better care.” Elizabeth said, “Participating in BTG CHIP gave me the opportunity to learn new skills I had never been exposed to previously. Before being immersed in the urban agriculture movement at my site, I had no idea how to care for vegetables in a garden or do any sort of farming for food production, especially in big cities like Philadelphia, or New York where I grew up. This summer, I learned that it is possible to grow flavorful, organic produce in the middle of a city, developed the skills to grow some myself, and saw that, when given the chance, people of all ages enjoy coming together to grow and prepare fresh, nutritious foods for themselves and their neighbors.”

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The Creative Arts Can Light a Spark!

Student Interns:
Samantha Baggott, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy
Andrew Waddell, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

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

Community Preceptor:
Michael O’Bryan, the Village of Arts and Humanities

The Community Site:
The mission of the Village of Arts and Humanities is to support the voices and aspirations of the community by providing opportunities for self-expression rooted in art and culture. The Village inspires people to be agents of positive change through programs that encompass arts and culture, engage youth, revitalize community, preserve heritage and respect the environment. Various free arts classes are provided to adults and youth in the community, offering a safe place to be expressive as well as providing local youth options for professional pursuits in the future. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Health Communication; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness; Preparedness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked with the Village of Arts and Humanities Youth Arts Program Manager to establish an interactive afternoon session for middle-school students with various educational and recreational activities. They led discussions concerning heart health and exercise and facilitated a student-led debate. The interns also assisted the artistic instructors with music, art, graphic design and Philly Earth educational classes.

Personal Statements:
Andrew said, “I enjoyed working with the students at the summer camp in a new and different way than my previous work experience as a music instructor. The project-based nature of the student projects was very creative, and I enjoyed helping them while also learning a great deal about their talent and view of the world. Working with the campers and teachers this summer was very inspiring, and it has helped me find a different voice for my own creativity.” Samantha said, “I greatly enjoyed getting to apply myself in new and creative ways within this setting. I feel that working with and being surrounded by so many creative individuals among the staff and the campers helped to bring me back in touch with my artistic and creative side. I truly felt inspired while working with these individuals, and I feel that the skills gained and memories made in this setting will accompany me far into my future. I felt like a welcomed member of the community, and I look forward to maintaining the relationships created at this site while possibly remaining involved with programs offered in the future.”

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Safe Haven for Women and Children

Student Interns:
Elaine Chau, Drexel University College of Medicine
Soudabeh Sedghi, Drexel University College of Medicine
Erin Thomas, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Sandra Wolf, MD, OBGYN, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Arlene Malcolm-Bell, PhD, Women Against Abuse

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

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Environmental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health;
Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Women Against Abuse (WAA) led a summer camp with kids aged 6 to 14 at the Women Against Abuse Emergency Shelter. They constructed lesson plans to teach the kids about heart health, nutrition and oral health. Other activities in day camp included a problem-based learning model of the ecosystem, math and literacy enrichment, arts and crafts, and field trips.

Personal Statements:
Elaine said, “This experience at the WAA shelter has provided me with a deeper understanding of how domestic violence and trauma can have a significant impact on a child’s psychological and social development. I was inspired by the amount of resilience each kid carried given the circumstances that they were raised in. I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked alongside this vulnerable population and to have a greater awareness of the challenges they face.” Soudabeh said, “Working at the Women Against Abuse shelter opened my eyes to a new world that I was not familiar with. Through this experience, I learned that factors such as socioeconomic status and race have a great impact on our daily lives and development as individuals. I also learned the importance of being patient and understanding of other people’s points of view in order to provide better service.” Erin said, “While working at Women Against Abuse I got to know the children as individuals, each with their own strengths and their own means of resilience. For every lesson I taught them, they taught me more, and as much as I hope I had an impact on these kids, I know that they have had a lasting impact on me. I know that my experience this summer has made me more knowledgeable and will help me become a better doctor.”

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Thriving and Surviving

Student Interns:
Jennifer Goldberg, Drexel University College of Medicine
Nydia Powell, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

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

Community Preceptor:
Maria Tate, Women Against Abuse

The Community Site:
Sojourner House and Sojourner House MOMS (Mentoring, Opportunity, Motivation, Spirituality) provide compassionate, faith-based residential recovery services to mothers and children in the Philadelphia area. They help addicted mothers learn to 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 (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Sojourner House MOMS (Mentoring, Opportunity, Motivation, Spirituality) guided children in a summer camp to increase their abilities in literacy, math, self-care and emotional stability. This was accomplished by providing the children with a combination of structured activities and counselors who were constantly present and approachable. In the midst of these goals, the interns also taught the children about various facets of health, including heart health, nutrition, exercise and oral hygiene, using repetition so the lessons and strategies would be better retained. In addition, the interns worked together with the other Women Against Abuse sites to make these lessons and goals as cohesive and interconnected as possible.

Personal Statements:
Jennifer said, “Bridging the Gaps has been a very unique and inspiring experience that simultaneously opened my eyes to the health issues present while allowing me to work in the midst of them within my site. The information I learned through lectures and through my community interactions will be vital to my future career. … This experience has taught me to not feel uncomfortable within these situations, and instead to try to understand the individual and ask questions, so that we can better serve one another.” Nydia said, “For me, this Bridging the Gaps program has helped to merge theories that were taught to me during the school year along with real-life situations. Ideals that could seem so far away became real and took human form. I was given the opportunity to work alongside other young adults from the medical field and learn about their experiences. Each week brought a new challenge, a new understanding of how to address children that have experienced difficulties, whether it be at school or home, and help facilitate a positive and enriching summer.”

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