BTG Hope

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Lehigh Valley Projects - 2018

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The Urgent Need for Policy Intervention

Student Intern:
Amanda Loper, Marywood University, School of Social Work

Academic Preceptor:
Mary Ellen Miller, PhD, RN, APHN-BC, DeSales University

Community Preceptors:
Kristine Blasco, The Sixth Street Shelter
Megan Barker, The Sixth Street Shelter

The Community Site:
The Sixth Street Shelter is a nonprofit subsidiary of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley (CACLV). It provides safe housing, case management and resources to families in need. The shelter’s primary focus is to provide housing for families as well as to offer intensive case management. Case managers assess residents’ needs and plan, implement and evaluate weekly and long-term goals. They monitor residents’ progress and facilitate interprofessional communication. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement; Injury and Violence Prevention; Literacy; Mental Health; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness; Responsible Sexual Behavior.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern participated in several projects during her seven weeks at the Sixth Street Shelter. She helped residents with housing searches, résumé preparation, employment searches and assistance with completing employment applications. The intern provided health education on several topics, including mental, heart and oral health. She collaborated to create self-care and empowerment workshop series and weekly art projects and physical fun activities for the resident were completed. The BTG intern also studied the effects of Hurricane Maria (2017) in Puerto Rico and how it impacted the shelter and homelessness in the Lehigh Valley. She also studied the issue of lack of affordable housing for low-income people in the Lehigh Valley area.

Intern Statement:
Amanda Loper: “These past seven weeks have been a fully enriching experience to study the cause and effects and homelessness in the lives of low-income families and children. I have gained a greater understanding of the strengths and financial challenges for a nonprofit organization such as the Sixth Street Shelter and have become fully committed to advocating for change to promote the need for affordable housing. The resiliency of the families supported by the Sixth Street Shelter have inspired me as a professional in social work and I will remember their stories of hope as I move forward in the field.”l the people who took time out of their busy schedule to give seminars during the Wednesdays in Philadelphia.”

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Making Alliances at Alliance Hall Summer Camp

Student Interns:
Brianna Annunziata, DeSales University, Physician Assistant Program
Alexa Canella, Moravian College, Nursing Program

Academic Preceptor:
Mary Ellen Miller PhD, RN, APHN-BC, DeSales University

Community Preceptor:
Tina Amato, MS, RD, LDN, Allentown Health Bureau

The Community Site:
The Alliance Hall Summer Recreation Program is a collaborative effort by several organizations providing recreation, arts and crafts, swimming, field trips, breakfast and lunch to inner-city children in Allentown, PA. The program registers approximately 250 children aged 7 to 13. During the program’s five-week operational period in July and August, 150 children participate daily on a drop-in basis. The 2018 program ran Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Program participation is free. Community Development Block Grants, corporate and private donations and in-kind contributions fund the program.

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Cardiovascular Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness; Tobacco Use.

The Project:
Every day the Bridging the Gaps interns encouraged a safe and healthy lifestyle at the Alliance Hall Summer Recreation Program. The program provides each child with a nutritious breakfast and lunch and the interns held a nutrition and cardiovascular health seminar to help them understand what healthy foods are and how to eat well. Information as to why eating balanced meals and exercising is important to their health was constantly provided and reiterated. Every day the campers went out on the playground, played basketball or ran and went swimming in the pool. All information was reinforced with field trips including a trip to a sports-themed museum, Putt-U mini golf, Dorney Park, a DeSales Players Production of “Alice in Wonderland” and Imagi-nation. The older children at the camp worked all summer on dance routines to compete in Allentown’s ROMPER day. They performed their dance routines for the entire camp and will perform at Dorney Park.

Intern Statements:
Brianna Annunziata: “Many of these children come from underprivileged households, making it difficult for their families to afford nutritious food for the whole family and access to sufficient healthcare and outlets for physical activity. Also, some of these children have learned how to care for themselves when sick or injured, having been taught by family rather than a medical professional. I also realized that mental healthcare is crucial and severely lacking in Allentown especially amongst the children who receive numerous diagnoses and are put on medication with no access to therapy. Youth are at the most receptive age, and it is crucial to instill in them the knowledge and healthy habits they’ll need later in life. I can see how big of a gap in healthcare access and education must be bridged in Allentown, PA, and I hope we helped to close it a bit.”

Alexa Canella: “Bridging the Gaps provided me with the opportunity to experience caring for a diverse group of underprivileged children. I learned that attention is important to children as they develop and that neglect can be a contributing factor to misbehavior. At the beginning of the internship, I didn’t expect to miss the children, but I know that I will miss them. It gave me a new perspective to take with me into my nursing career. I have learned to look at the big picture and not just the illness.”

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Keeping Casa Kids Creative (and Happy)

Student Interns:
Jack Carney, DeSales University, Physician Assistant Program
Jessica Salib, Moravian College, Nursing Program

Academic Preceptor:
Mary Ellen Miller PhD, RN, APHN-BC, DeSales University

Community Preceptors:
Andrea Wilson, Casa Guadalupe
Nancy Ruiz, Casa Guadalupe

The Community Site:
Casa Guadalupe is a nonprofit organization that offers various community services to vulnerable populations in the Allentown area. The dedicated staff provides educational and social support for children, youth and elderly adults from Latino families. The overall goal of the program is to improve children’s literacy, health and well-being, and developmental growth, while promoting positive lifestyles through participation in science activities, artistic expression, sports and exercise, and health education. View Community Partner Web Site

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

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Casa Guadalupe worked with the teachers and other staff members to ensure that the children received an enjoyable experience as well as an adequate learning environment to promote academic development throughout the summer. The interns also assisted in distributing meals and snacks and counted off each meal distributed during breakfast and lunch. The interns conducted and were involved in many activities throughout the summer, such as arts and crafts, literacy hour, sports/physical activity games, and oral and cardiovascular health education.

Intern Statements:
Jack Carney: “I saw this community site as an excellent opportunity to learn from these underprivileged students while trying to teach them. Ultimately, the weeks I spent at Casa taught me more about public and social health than any amount of time in the classroom could. We made such strong bonds with these students that by the end of the internship they felt like family. We spent countless hours working on skills in health, literacy and mathematics, and while you’d think a young child would only want to play outside all summer, I was surprised to see how eager these students were to sit down and learn.  It was incredibly rewarding to see the growth in academic and social skills these students developed in such a short period of time, and to think that I had any part in impacting this skill makes all the hard work this summer completely worth my while.”

Jessica Salib: “I was excited to be able to work with and positively impact a community through Casa’s summer camp program; however, I did not anticipate how much I was impacted by that community as well. I enjoyed spending time with the children: assisting them in their literacy and math skills, educating them on oral health, and playing with them outside during our physical activity sessions. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to have learned more about the social aspects of health throughout the summer. I hope to continue to build on and integrate these aspects of public health education in my future practice or career with each client or patient whom I will work with.”

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