Thomas Jefferson University 2021 Summaries

Hall Mercer

 

Learning Center: Empowering Individuals With Intellectual Disabilities  (click to view Poster)

Student Interns: 

Julia Flatto, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice

Janita Matoke, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Population Health 

 

Academic Preceptors: 

Zvi D. Gellis, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice

Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

 

Community Preceptors: 

Beverly Bradley, Learning Center Program Leader, Hall Mercer 

Angelo Cirrincione, Learning Center Program Leader, Hall Mercer

Adrienne Harmon, Learning Center Program Leader, Hall Mercer

 

Community Site:

The Learning Center program at Hall Mercer provides daily services for intellectually disabled adults in the Philadelphia community. The Learning Center, currently conducted on Teams, offers participants different activities such as life skills, exercise and music in a group session format. The clients generally reside in care homes or are living with their families in Philadelphia.

https://www.med.upenn.edu/hallmercer/clinical_mr.html

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked to create a comprehensive plan for each day, including creative, informational, adjustable and innovative ways to engage the clientele. The interns used their specific backgrounds and skills to help their clients have an experience similar to what the clients would have in person. The interns worked in separate phases to provide a unique experience for the group of clients.

 

Intern Statements: 

Julia Flatto: “This internship has taught me about a population that I had no previous context working with in a clinical setting and also … about the background difficulties that Hall Mercer deals with in operating and running the program. Though it was difficult to work from a remote setting this year at times, it also offered opportunities for challenge and growth since I learned to balance many interests and personalities in a forum that did not allow me the luxury of one-on-one or in-person contact. I also think this experience helped alter my preconceived bias of individuals with intellectual disabilities. The idea of viewing such individuals as having limited abilities and desires was completely changed by this wonderful program. I have witnessed firsthand the potential that my clients have in a proper setting and the intimate relationships they have with each other and their therapists.” 

 

Janita Matoke: “Over the span of seven weeks, I got to implement the art of being ‘quick on one’s feet.’ I got to spend time getting to know individuals in a genuine way, and I got the wonderful reward of getting closer to the clients over time. I was reminded of the imperativeness of treating everyone with respect, dignity and as simply as people and human beings. I learned about myself and grew personally, learning the importance of consistency, being a leader and showing up for people in an open, genuine and richly intentional way. I am very grateful for all that Bridging the Gaps is and was for me this summer.” 

 

 

Hansjörg Wyss Wellness Center

 

Bridging the Gaps at Wyss Wellness Center  (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns: 

Reeya Lele, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Stephanie Lin, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College 

 

Academic Preceptor: 

Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

 

Community Preceptor: 

Jenna Gosnay, Hansjörg Wyss Wellness Center 

 

Community Site:

The Hansjörg Wyss Wellness Center is a new clinic that opened during the pandemic. It serves as a hub for clinical and educational outreach activities with a focus on the immigrant population in addition to the surrounding South Philadelphia community. The center provides a platform to deliver full-spectrum primary care, social services, wellness activities and other community-focused programming.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns reached out to community organizations and partners to establish connections and referral processes. Wyss serves predominantly non-English-speaking immigrant populations, so the interns were needed to assist the social worker in many ways, from scheduling patients’ appointments to following up with their care. Together, interns were able to create culturally appropriate resources for Wyss’s patient population and assist patients with their diverse needs.

 

Intern Statements:

Reeya Lele: “I found working with refugees, immigrants and undocumented folks both eye-opening and invaluable. We worked with patients who had a lot of different cultural, financial and accessibility needs. I really enjoyed learning how to best advocate for the patients in order to take care of the necessary healthcare and social services. Everyone at the Wyss Wellness Center was incredibly passionate about serving the community and their patients, which was amazing.”

 

Stephanie Lin: “As an immigrant myself, working at the Wyss Wellness Center has been especially rewarding. I have learned so much about the nuances of the American healthcare system, especially in the context of accessing care for uninsured and undocumented individuals with unique healthcare needs. I also witnessed and learned through the interactions between the staff and patients what it’s like to provide patient-centered, culturally appropriate resources and how to advocate for our patients in a system that does not cater to their needs.” 

 

 

Mazzoni Center

 

Building a Stronger Community via Patient and Family Advisory Council Recruitment  (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns: 

Sophia Grossman, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Occupational Therapy 

Jasmine Han, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

 

Academic Preceptor: 

Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

 

Community Preceptor: 

Andrew Gudzelak, Health Center Data Evaluation, Mazzoni Center

 

Community Site:

The Mazzoni Center is a community healthcare clinic dedicated to offering services that promote the health and well-being of the LGBTQ communities. Located in Center City Philadelphia, the Mazzoni Center offers primary medical care, mental health and substance-use treatment services, legal services and gender-affirming services, among others. The center also hosts the largest free trans-specific conference in the world, the Trans Wellness Conference, and is one of the largest providers of HIV prevention and care in the city of Philadelphia.
https://www.mazzonicenter.org

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns started a recruitment process for the Mazzoni Center’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC). They created flyers outlining the PFAC goals and responsibilities and handed that out to staff members and providers at the clinic; they also hung the flyers up at the front desk area, in the bathrooms and in other waiting areas. Additionally, the interns created a PowerPoint slide about PFAC to post on the TVs in the waiting room and on the Mazzoni Instagram page. They recruited patients by speaking with them during visits, calling them on the phone, or sending email. The interns were able to participate in two PFAC meetings during their internship and doubled the number of patients present on the council.

 

Intern Statements: 

Sophia Grossman: “My time at the Mazzoni Center reinforced my desire to practice occupational therapy in a community health setting. I am very grateful to have been given a glimpse into the hard work that goes into sustaining the programs offered here, from accessing funding, to scheduling providers, to outreaching patients who need important follow-up care. I also substantially grew my knowledge about gender-affirming healthcare and best practices for caring for transgender patients. As I move forward in my education and career, I now know what to look for in a future workplace, thanks to the mutual respect between providers and patients and the collaborative, inclusive environment of the Mazzoni Center.”

 

Jasmine Han: “Being able to work at the Mazzoni Center gave me the opportunity to learn about trans health, the providers’ roles in the community, and how important patient-centered healthcare is. Similarly, I was able to make resources more accessible to patients and learned how we could help our patients feel more comfortable, such as not misgendering a patient or being cognizant of the phrases we use. This is important because there can be so many barriers to accessing healthcare and helping a patient feel at ease with the service and care they are receiving. I feel very appreciative to have had the chance to work with such a dedicated and understanding team at the clinic and am excited to take the things I have learned here into the conversations I have with future patients.”

 

 

Mercy Neighborhood Ministries

 

Healthy Minds and Bodies at Summer Camp (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns:

Heather Morey, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Occupational Therapy

Julia Testa, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Occupational Therapy

Samantha Young, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

 

Academic Preceptor:

Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

 

Community Preceptor:

Barbara Coleman, Director of Programs, Mercy Neighborhood Ministries

 

Community Site:

Mercy Neighborhood Ministries of Philadelphia, Inc., located in the Nicetown-Tioga section of North Philadelphia, is a faith-based community center. Mercy provides childcare services such as Head Start, preschool, before- and after-school care, and a nine-week summer day camp to children from pre-K through eighth grade. In addition, they provide adult day care for adults who are unable to complete daily self-care activities independently or who desire companionship. Mercy Neighborhood Ministries also provides GED classes.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns co-taught children aged 4 to 8, alongside a summer camp teacher. The summer camp focused on academic enrichment, following the students’ previous year of virtual learning. Every Friday morning, the interns led a virtual health education program on Zoom for the children. Some of the topics covered included hygiene, exercise, nutrition, sleep, healthy friendships and oral health.

 

Intern Statements:

Heather Morey: “This BTG CHIP experience has provided me with my first opportunity to work with children in a professional setting. I enjoyed my experience attending a children’s summer camp and getting to learn and play alongside the children, watching their growth through Mercy’s academic enrichment program. Professionally, I found that I was able to use my occupational therapy education to support the children’s engagement and participation in the summer camp activities. Personally, I have truly enjoyed building relationships with the staff and children and value the knowledge they have imparted upon me.” 

 

Julia Testa: “In my time at Mercy I have learned about the different barriers and supports that these children encounter in their community and how it impacts their educational experience. The BTG Wednesday didactic sessions gave me a toolkit of skills of how to effectively interact with children. My time at Mercy was filled with rewarding relationships as well as lots of laughter, fun and hugs from my children.”

 

Samantha Young: “Being in the classroom solidified the importance of education as a social determinant of health. Moreover, I saw just how invaluable early child workers truly are.. Each day, the teachers and children reminded me of lessons from yesteryear about the importance of a schedule, being kind to others and trying your best. It has been a blessing to share laughs and memories with the teachers and children.”

 

 

Nationalities Service Center

 

Empowering Refugee and Immigrant Communities: Health, Well-Being and Social Connection as a Foundation for Life (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns: 

Sophia Huang, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Occupational Therapy

Michael Sangobiyi, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

 

Academic Preceptor: 

Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

 

Community Preceptors: 

Christina Kubica, MSW, LSW, Manager of Specialized Health Services, Nationalities Service Center

Ariel MacNeill, MPH, Senior Manager of Health Access and Specialized Supports, Nationalities Service Center

 

Community Site: 

Nationalities Service Center (NSC) is an organization committed to serving all refugees and immigrants by providing comprehensive services, including language proficiency classes, legal protections, case management, community transition and integration resources, access to health and wellness, and job readiness and youth programming. Based in Center City Philadelphia, NSC strives to promote health, well-being, independence and quality of life for the refugee and immigrant population it serves. Ultimately, NSC empowers immigrants and refugees by supporting them to connect with their community and build a foundation for a better future in the U.S.
https://nscphila.org 

 

 

Project: 

The Bridging the Gaps student interns were paired with different departments within the larger NSC organization to assist with various projects. One intern worked with the INSPIRE (Innovative Supports Program for Immigrant and Refugee Empowerment) team to establish a summer curriculum and facilitate sessions and field trips for its high school youth group, which involved community building and social participation activities. The INSPIRE intern also researched and developed a guide for case managers to help them navigate special education services in Philadelphia schools, created health education materials for smoking cessation, and co-led workshops on the FAFSA and sleep health for refugee and immigrant youth. The other intern worked to create educational materials about nutrition that will be presented to newly arrived refugees. The module covered basic topics such as how to read a nutrition label, how to properly portion food, and healthy and culturally relevant substitutions for recipes. Additionally, the intern assisted with the packaging and distribution of food for NSC clients who qualified for this service.

 

Intern Statements: 

Sophia Huang: “Participating in BTG this summer has helped me accomplish my goal of not only connecting more with the local community in Philadelphia, but it has also allowed me to gain insight into refugee and immigrant communities. As a daughter of immigrants, myself, I feel passionate about, and grateful for, the opportunities I had this summer to work directly with members of this community, to empower them and help them create a stronger foundation for their life in the U.S. During my internship, I was able to develop my flexibility, open-mindedness, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, as well as learn from and collaborate with professionals across several disciplines at NSC. Altogether, my experience has enriched my education and made me feel better prepared to be a future occupational therapist.” 

 

Michael Sangobiyi: “Partaking in the Bridging the Gaps Summer program provided me with an excellent opportunity to give back to the Philadelphia community. Additionally, it helped me to better understand the needs of the people who live in the same community as me. Being able to observe the interactions between social workers and healthcare providers has allowed me to gain a greater appreciation for the importance of working in an interdisciplinary team. I hope that I will be able to take all of the lessons I’ve learned regarding tolerance, teamwork and patience and implement it in my future medical practice.”

 

 

Philadelphia FIGHT 

 

Community Outreach to Combat Hepatitis C (click to view Poster)

 

Student Intern:
Joshua Kane, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Nursing

 

Academic Preceptors:

Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Amy Levine, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

 

Community Preceptor:

Lora Magaldi, C a Difference / Hepatitis C, John Bell Health Center, Philadelphia FIGHT

 

Community Site:
Philadelphia FIGHT includes the John Bell Health Center, the Jonathan Lax HIV/AIDS Treatment Center, the Pediatric and Adolescent Health Center, Y-HEP Adolescent and Young Adult Health Center, FIGHT Family Dentistry, MAT and Harm Reduction Services, Project TEACH, Critical Path Learning Center, the Institute for Community Justice and more, including community partnerships. FIGHT began as an AIDS clinic in 1990 and has since expanded to include a multitude of community services.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student Intern conducted phone outreach to clients who had begun their Hep C drug treatment in the last year but hadn’t yet had their follow-up test. If the client was reached and wished to be tested, the intern created an appointment in the eClinicalWorks software. The intern also conducted phone outreach to a more general list of clients who hadn’t visited the clinic since 2019 to 2020. If the client was reached and needed services, the intern again used the eClinicalWorks software to set an appointment. The intern had the opportunity to travel weekly with FIGHT staff members to do client outreach along Kensington Avenue in the Kensington neighborhood — an area with a large percentage of people with opioid addiction and other related health issues, including Hep C and HIV/AIDS. The intern put together care packages, which included oral care products, condoms, bandages, socks, antiseptic pads, feminine products and a FIGHT info card, and helped distribute them. If a person wanted to be connected to services, the intern or staff member would provide that person with information relevant to their situation. The intern created resources such as an oral health card to be included in the client outreach care packets and a postcard for the C a Difference program, which included contact information and a list of services related to the FIGHT Hep C program. These were mass printed and distributed in various locations.

Intern Statement:

Joshua Kane: “The BTG CHIP experience has renewed my interest in community health as a potential career path in nursing. Even if I don’t end up working at a community health center or clinic, this experience has reinforced the fundamental worth of empathy, kindness, listening, patience and reservation of judgment in regard to interactions with patients, potential clients, staff, administrators and the general public.”

 

 

Philadelphia FIGHT Pediatrics 

 

Philadelphia FIGHT Pediatrics: Next-Level Primary Care  (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns: 

Sidney Nunes, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Allison Pensa, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College 

 

Academic Preceptors:

Hillary Bogner, MD, MSCE, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Christopher Renjilian, MD, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

 

Community Preceptor:

Mario Cruz, MD, Philadelphia FIGHT Pediatric and Adolescent Health Center

 

Community Site: 

Philadelphia FIGHT Pediatrics, located in Center City Philadelphia, provides high-quality, comprehensive primary care to address the physical and emotional health needs of children from birth through age 18. As a Federally Qualified Health Center, FIGHT welcomes patients of all income levels, races, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, insurance statuses and nationalities, regardless of ability to pay. https://fight.org/programs/pediatric-and-adolescent-health-center/ 

 

Project: 

The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Philadelphia FIGHT Pediatrics worked on updating various educational and community organization resources, including creating materials for the clinic’s website on topics including physical activity resources, breastfeeding/chestfeeding, LGBTQ health and lead poisoning. To complement these updates, the students also created community resource handouts for the FIGHT clinic on topics such as mental health, physical activity, eye health and breastfeeding/chestfeeding support groups. In addition, the students observed patient care and assisted staff at the clinic with day-to-day operations and patient needs.

 

Intern Statement:

Sidney Nunes: “Working at Philadelphia FIGHT this summer was a great opportunity for me to put my passion for primary care and community health to use in a clinical setting. The Bridging the Gaps program allowed me to combine an amazing educational experience with providing tangible benefits to the community in a way that is rare for first-year medical students. Working and observing in the clinic at FIGHT enabled me to meet and learn more about caring for Philadelphia’s wonderfully diverse patient population, while at the same time working on projects that will benefit FIGHT’s patients over the long term and beyond the exam room. Most of all, I am extremely grateful for the wonderful mentorship of the providers at Philadelphia FIGHT Pediatrics and for all I have learned from them about creating a clinical practice that centers the patient experience and health advocacy above all else.” 

 

Allison Pensa: “The providers at Philadelphia FIGHT Pediatrics do an excellent job of anticipating barriers to care for marginalized groups and working proactively to lessen some of those adversities before the patient even enters their exam room. They go above and beyond for their patients, and, working alongside them this summer, I have learned how to advocate for patients with diverse social and medical needs. From my various projects, I have more experience researching advocacy resources in the Philadelphia area. No matter what field of medicine I enter, I will undoubtedly use the lessons that I have learned here in my future career.” 

 

 

Philadelphia Senior Center on the Avenue of the Arts

 

Regeneration + Reconnection = Strong Community (click to view Poster)

 

Student Intern: 

Sylwia Gutowska, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Occupational Therapy

 

Academic Preceptor: 

Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

 

Community Preceptors: 

Mary Ellen Bolden, BA, NC Director of Community Services, Philadelphia Senior Center

Julie Nelson, BS, Center Manager, Philadelphia Senior Center

 

Community Site: 

The Philadelphia Senior Center on the Avenue of the Arts serves members aged 55 and older in the greater Philadelphia community. The center is a wonderful place for seniors to keep growing, learning, laughing and connecting with the world around them. It offers a wide range of services at little or no cost to members. The center provides prepared food pickup (grab and go during the COVID-19 pandemic), farmers market vouchers, health-promoting services, and resources for seniors to learn, grow and discover new ways to be actively engaged in living. As part of PSC’s Services on Site (SOS) program, service coordinators assist seniors living in affordable-housing properties with a comprehensive array of health and supportive services to maintain their independence and dignity. Before COVID-19 restrictions, the center served as a meeting place for older adults to connect with peers and their community throughout the year.
https://www.newcourtland.org/senior-centers/

 

Project: 

The Bridging the Gaps student intern facilitated weekly health presentations for community and staff members on requested topics, including cardiovascular health, oral health, skin cancer, sun protection, vision, sexual health and intimacy. Seminars were conducted via the Zoom platform. Slides and recordings were available through the Philadelphia Senior Center community preceptors. Interactive live discussions engaged members in discussing their health beliefs and knowledge, addressed any concerns and connected them to additional resources.

 

Intern Statement: 

Sylwia Gutowska: “The Philadelphia Senior Center serves as a getaway for many seniors and connects them to vital community services while supporting their health and independence. The center is a great place filled with numerous activities and opportunities to learn more about each other, grow, laugh and connect. I have encountered so many different backgrounds and cultures, which have helped me understand other people’s perspectives on aging and created friendships with other members (and employees!). Getting to know the seniors over the phone and in person was rewarding and allowed me to get out of my comfort zone when looking for additional resources to assist others. The Bridging the Gaps program was a rewarding experience, as I learned to understand better what is essential in life and matters the most: time, company and listening ear. I also realized how powerful my words and actions could be and how they can change someone’s perspective on life and well-being.” 

 

 

Puentes de Salud 

La Importancia de la Communidad (The Importance of Community) (click to view Poster)

Student Intern: 
Steven Gravier-Leon, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

 

Academic Preceptor: 
Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

 

Community Preceptor:
Leah Reisman, PhD, Puentes de Salud 

 

Community Site:

Puentes de Salud is an organization that works to promote wellness in the South Philadelphia Latinx community. Puentes de Salud addresses education, health and social service needs as well as the unique barriers faced by immigrant populations by partnering with community members and providing affordable medical, dental, wellness and education services.
https://puentesdesalud.org/

 

 

Project: 

The Bridging the Gaps student intern helped with both clinical and nonclinical work at the Puentes clinic. Clinically, the intern assisted in COVID-19 testing and vaccination and with language interpretation of medical encounters. The intern’s nonclinical work involved interviewing various staff members and creating a draft of a report detailing all the initiatives conducted at Puentes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Intern Statement: 
Steven Gravier-Leon: “The seven weeks I spent at Puentes de Salud taught me so much. This experience opened my eyes to the significant barriers that many Latinos in Philadelphia face when seeking healthcare. When we start talking about Latinos who are uninsured and sometimes undocumented these barriers become twice as high. In addition to the barriers to access many Latinos face, language barriers and cultural differences make it very difficult for them to receive excellent medical care. These people, at the expense of their personal circumstances, don’t have access to basic healthcare and therefore suffer from preventable and easily treatable conditions. Puentes de Salud’s work in this community makes a world of a difference to the many individuals that frequently get overlooked by the government and the rest of society. I look forward to being an advocate for this population and assisting them both in and out of the clinical setting.”  

 

 

Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse

 

Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse: Returning to Play After a Pandemic (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns:

Jordan Crisci, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Occupational Therapy

Linda Jiang, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

Colin Ness, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptors:

Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Ann L. O’Sullivan, PhD, FAAN, CRNP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

Providenza Loera, JD, MSW, MBE, HEC-C, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine

 

Community Preceptor:

Frances Hoover, BS, MBA, Executive Director of Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse

 

Community Site:

Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse was founded in 1899 by Richard and Sarah Smith. The couple dedicated the site in the memory of their adult son, Stanfield. Smith was constructed to provide and promote unstructured free play opportunities for children. Parents and caregivers accompany children on visits to Smith and discover the importance of play in fostering their children’s health and well-being. The Smith staff consists of dedicated teachers and advocates for play and child development who partner with community-based organizations. Smith is a welcoming, safe and inclusive space that has remained a treasured play experience for generations. One of the community site’s most popular attractions is the century-old Ann Newman Giant Wooden Slide, which countless children have enjoyed over the years.
https://smithplayground.org/

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns assisted the executive director and staff in running an in-person summer day camp for preschool children aged 3 to 5, making sure the preschoolers had a fun and safe summer during the COVID-19 pandemic. The interns included oral health lessons where the campers learned about dentists, practiced brushing teeth on a model and were given toothbrushes and handouts to take home. The summer camp allowed children to hone their social skills and executive functioning skills after a year and a half of being home due to the pandemic.

 

Intern Statements:

Jordan Crisci: “Through my experience this summer with Bridging the Gaps, I was able to utilize and grow my skills as an occupational therapy student. I helped to facilitate children’s safe return to the occupation of play and their transition back into an environment outside their home following the coronavirus pandemic. I am so grateful for the opportunity to get to know the Smith Memorial Playground community, and I know that the connections and memories I have made here will have a lasting impact on my personal and professional life.”

 

Linda Jiang: “Through Bridging the Gaps, I had an amazing experience working at Smith Memorial Playground’s preschool camp. Before interning here, I always had doubts about whether or not I would enjoy working with children and whether they would like me. My first week quelled these anxieties and instead ignited my passion for working with children. Children are kind, funny and creative—not always loud and obnoxious as people make them out to be. Nonetheless, I had to relearn the importance of patience, flexibility and perseverance. I reexamined my biases and explored the impact of family circumstances/social environments on the behaviors of children. This internship allowed me to work closely with the West Philadelphia community and examine the social determinants of health. I am grateful to have been a part of this diverse, welcoming space for safe, unstructured play and hope to take these lessons with me when I become a pediatric nurse.”

 

Colin Ness: “Thanks to Bridging the Gaps, I was connected with the wonderful people at Smith Memorial Playground. Working at their camp this summer has deepened my passion for helping kids be the best they can be. Smith Memorial Playground’s dedication to a safe, diverse and inclusive environment ensures that the kids here can engage in free and imaginative play that builds social and emotional skills. I have learned so much at Smith Playground that will help me in my future as a pediatrician.” 

 

 

Visitation Homes

 

Discovering Kensington Hopes and Dreams (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns:

Nehal Eloraby, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Occupational Therapy

Danielle Grant, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

 

Academic Preceptor:

Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

 

Community Preceptors:

Kate Baumgardner, MSW, Program Director, Visitation Homes

Zakiyyah Harris, Visitation Homes 

 

Community Site:

Visitation Homes at Kensington provides subsidized housing to homeless women and their children in order to assist them in self-sufficiency and self-reliance. The facility provides 18 apartments to transition women and children from homelessness to independent living.
https://cssphiladelphia.org/housing-homeless-services/

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns planned eight weeks of summer camp activities for children who live in Kensington, including outdoor activities, arts and crafts, and educational activities. The student interns then supported the camp counselors in running the activities and connecting with the children at the camp. The interns also helped chaperone summer camp field trips to different sites.

 

Intern Statements: 

Nehal Eloraby: “This experience taught me to not judge a book by its cover. We all want the same things — such as love, respect and health — regardless of our backgrounds. I developed friendships and connections that I will forever cherish. I learned a lot about humility, selflessness and the effects of trauma from the community of Kensington. In just a few short weeks, I learned how to express love from the kids and overall community. I am excited to stay connected and help build a positive future.”

 

Danielle Grant: “BTG helped cultivate my ability to connect with people who are from a different background than myself. The children at the camp also allowed me to understand both the positives and negatives of growing up in Kensington, and the great things that are there. The creativity of the residents of Kensington is something that I did not see discussed on social media or news outlets whenever someone talks about Kensington.”