University of Pennsylvania 2021 Summaries

A Book a Day Partnered with Penn Dental

 

Summer With A Book a Day and Penn Dental (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns: 

Jiayue (Joy) Qiu, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Aiysha Scott, University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine

 

Academic Preceptors: 

Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Brittany Watson, VMD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine

 

Community Preceptors: 

Soyoung Jung, A Book a Day 

Shabnam Sedaghat, DMD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine 

Sibylla Shekerdjiska-Benatova, A Book a Day 

Matthew Whipple, RDN, LDN, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

 

Community Site: 

A Book a Day is a West Philadelphia organization that advocates for childhood literacy and understanding cultural diversity by donating children’s books to public schools and libraries. https://abookaday.edublogs.org/

 

Project: 

The Bridging the Gaps student interns assisted A Book a Day with creating a catalog of 108 children’s books for schools in the West Philadelphia area. They made a curation of children’s books that is part of a collaborative literacy project among small businesses in the West Philadelphia neighborhood funded by A Book A Day. The interns also helped execute a heart-healthy recipe demo event at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease prevention. To promote oral hygiene and effective brushing and flossing techniques, the interns created an oral health infographic for Penn Dental’s community site clinics at Puentes de Salud and the Penn Smiles mobile center. Finally, the interns completed phone interview surveys for the book giveaway program sponsored by A Book a Day. They collected anonymous participant general statistics and made 50 calls to parents of program participants to collect parents’ feedback on the program. 

 

Intern Statements: 

Joy Qiu: “Working with A Book a Day and the Penn Dental community sites definitely drew me closer to the West Philadelphia and greater Philadelphia community. The Wednesday workshops and guest lectures keep reminding me imperfections exist in life and around us. BTG inspires me to expand my curiosity and pursuit of knowledge outside of dentistry to think about many important questions. It is indeed a reflective and rewarding summer.”

 

Aiysha Scott: “Working with A Book a Day has taught me so much about what it means to give back to the community. I am grateful to have been able to assist the organization in sharing the gift of reading with schools in the West Philadelphia area. The donation of books provides children with the opportunity to celebrate diverse cultures as well as encourages them to be excited about learning. From my time with Penn Dental, I was also able to learn about how economic disadvantages affect oral health and nutrition. As a healthcare provider, I hope to carry with me the understanding of unique backgrounds which I have gained from my Bridging the Gaps experience.”

 

 

American Heart Association and Breathe Free Pennsylvania Coalition

 

Advocating for Casinos to Go Smoke-Free (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns:

Anabel Kelso, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine 

Sarah Nessen, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptors:

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

Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

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

 

Community Preceptors:

Brad Cary, American Heart Association

Traci Kennedy, MPA, American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation

 

Community Site: 

The American Heart Association’s Breathe Free Pennsylvania (BFP) is a coalition and advocacy group that aims to ensure that all people have access to safe, smoke-free air in their workplace. Their work centers mainly on casino workers, as gambling arenas in Pennsylvania still allow smoking indoors. In addition to the American Heart Association, BFP partners with the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation and other public health organizations. https://www.heart.org/ 

 

Project: 

The Bridging the Gaps student interns collected personal narratives from casino employees and patrons to highlight the negative impacts of secondhand smoke on their lives. Through numerous forms of outreach, such as surveys, interviews and town hall meetings, students documented how both current and former employees and patrons have been personally distressed by tobacco policy in casinos. Interviewees explained that they wanted to see change within their workplaces, but often felt powerless and fearful when speaking out. The collection of narratives and personal stories will be compiled to present to various legislators and lawmakers throughout Pennsylvania. The end goal is for lawmakers to pass a comprehensive clean indoor air law throughout the state. The interns also worked on a project to evaluate tobacco policies in primary and secondary schools across various Southern states of the United States. Students documented the specific details and wording of the school policies, sharing the data with BFP’s collaborators. The hope is that this data will encourage states to have more standardized and comprehensive tobacco laws in all schools.

 

Intern Statements:

Anabel Kelso: “My experience working for the American Heart Association and the Breathe Free Pennsylvania Coalition has been extremely eye-opening. I had never considered the harmful effects casino workers face on a daily basis by inhaling secondhand smoke in their workplace, or how difficult it is to implement change through public policy when dealing with massive organizations such as the casino industry. As a future dental practitioner, this experience has taught me to advocate for my future patients, and to really take the time to hear and share their stories.”

 

Sarah Nessen: “My internship this summer has deepened my interest in environmental health and advocacy for marginalized workers. I’ve seen how disconnected public policy is from the everyday lives of casino employees, a group that often goes unseen by the public. Hearing their stories has also shown me the importance of considering the social factors affecting someone’s health and well-being. As a future physician, I hope to continue to amplify the voices of my patients and to promote policy that will protect the health of vulnerable populations.”

 

 

American Lung Association, Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco (PACT) team

 

Advocacy Efforts and Policy Research for the American Lung Association in Pennsylvania (click to view Poster)

 

Student Intern:

Olivia Palmer, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptors:

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

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

 

Community Preceptor:

Molly Pisciottano, MHA, American Lung Association, Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco

 

Community Site:

The Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco (PACT), part of the American Lung Association in Pennsylvania and funded by a grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Health, is a statewide coalition that educates the public and elected officials about clean indoor air, tobacco taxes and other critical tobacco control issues. 

https://pactonline.org/

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student intern conducted research on new potential strategies for the American Lung Association’s point-of-sale campaign. The intern did background research on the current licensing laws for tobacco retailers in Pennsylvania and researched potential avenues for amending the state law to include a retail density cap, tobacco-free school zone restrictions, and a requirement to post PA Free Quitline signage. The intern also created new content for the Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco (PACT) and Tobacco Resistance Unit (TRU) social media accounts. Additionally, the intern provided support with other advocacy initiatives as needed, such as completing action alerts and calls to action, and participated in stakeholder meetings such as the Virtual PA Asthma Roundtable to discuss issues such as stock albuterol in schools.

 

Intern Statement:

Olivia Palmer: “Prior to entering the summer with Bridging the Gaps, I was interested in gaining a better understanding of what a career in health policy might look like. Through my time at the American Lung Association, I witnessed the steps necessary to solve public health issues through legal action. I learned about the power of grassroots advocacy and saw — while meeting with lobbyists and public health advocates — that the voice of the community serves as the strongest catalyst for change. As a future healthcare provider interested in working with underserved communities, I look forward to applying this invaluable knowledge to my future career. This summer has given me the tangible skills and institutional knowledge to integrate advocacy and policy change into my future practice as a physician.”

 

 

Beyond Literacy

 

Adult Health Education and Health Career Resources at Beyond Literacy (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns:

Deanna Choma, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Sophie Ouyang, 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:

Mercy Howard, BA, Intake and Volunteer Coordinator, Beyond Literacy

 

Community Site: 

Beyond Literacy is a community organization that provides education to adults who wish to obtain their high school equivalency or become more proficient in English and those who want to improve workplace or technology skills. Beyond Literacy was formed through a merger of the Community Learning Center and the Center for Literacy.
https://beyondliteracy.org/ 

 

Project: 

The Bridging the Gaps student interns created multilingual flyers about health resources for ESL students having trouble finding care in Philadelphia. They also created and delivered presentations on oral and cardiovascular health as well as different health careers. The interns also helped create individual learning plans for students; these plans are used by teachers and students to identify students’ proficiency in a subject. The interns also reviewed student attendance logs for state/city funding and assisted in weekly ESL technology classes.

 

Intern Statements: 

Deanna Choma: “Over the course of this internship, I have learned how important access to information is. A lot of students wanted to get care but did not have enough information on multilingual clinics to do so. Students also expressed interest in pursuing health careers but did not know where to start in that journey. Simply doing research and compiling this information for students at Beyond Literacy helps them receive better care or begin their pursuit of a new career. I really appreciated the ability to interact with and answer questions from students during our presentations. Although we spent a lot of time educating others, I feel like I learned a lot as well.”

 

Sophie Ouyang: “Despite the challenges from joining Beyond Literacy during the midst of their merger between the Community Learning Center and the Center for Literacy, I am grateful to have been able to help our site and its students by compiling low-cost and multilingual resources, giving oral and cardiovascular health presentations, and explaining the career pathways for multiple healthcare professions. Working with adult learners and pursuing education as an adult requires a lot of patience and dedication, which is something I admire about both the staff and the students at Beyond Literacy. Although the connections we could foster were limited online, I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about our community through their storytelling videos/recordings.”

 

 

Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center

 

Empowering VAMC Patients with Tools for a Healthier Life (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns:

Isabelle Kaneza, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Gabriella Nguyen, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

 

Academic Preceptors:

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

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

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

 

Community Preceptors:

Kristyna Bedek, PsyD, Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center 

Nisha Nayak, PhD, Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center

 

Community Site:

Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center is a nearly 300-bed tertiary care teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania that serves over 57,000 US veterans through more than 450,000 visits per year. Its mission is to honor America’s veterans by providing exceptional healthcare that improves their health and well-being. 

https://www.philadelphia.va.gov/

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked on a smoking cessation advocacy project for which they contacted homeless-veteran organizations and services at the VA to educate and provide quitting resources to affiliated staff and encourage involvement in advocacy for their clients (such as working toward a smoke-free site, disseminating resources, etc.). They created infographics with VA and online veteran-specific resources and one for holistic health resources to stay smoke-free. In addition, they worked with the Whole Health Program, a VA-developed program that supports the health and well-being of veterans, including what matters most to them. With this program, they ran a pilot initiative called Whole Health Hotspot to implement tablets in primary care waiting rooms to encourage veterans to take the Healthy Living Assessment, a VA-developed whole health assessment. They also made referral calls to veterans for the MOVE Weight Management Program, which is part of the Whole Health Program.

 

Intern Statements:

Isabelle Kaneza: “My summer at the VAMC first granted me a more comprehensive understanding of nicotine addiction. Through becoming advocates for veterans with a desire to quit smoking tobacco, I now have empathy for why people start smoking, understand just how difficult quitting is, and am aware of quitting resources in the Philadelphia area to provide future patients under my care. Secondly, this internship helped determine my future career path by further confirming my love for interacting with patients and distaste for pure corporate work. I felt most enriched while empowering veterans with tools and resources on how to take ownership of their health. Finally, I acquired an appreciation for both the veteran community and why they chose to serve this country and for the people who give back to veterans by making sure they are cared for long after their time in service is over.”

 

Gabriella Nguyen: “Initially when finding out my placement at the VA Medical Center, I did not know what to expect as I did not have a particular interest nor knowledge about the veteran community. But while working there, I have become more familiar and have more respect for this community, gained knowledge of the issues that affect veterans (i.e., tobacco use, mental health), and become aware of the available veteran-focused resources. The vulnerability of this community is heartbreaking and shocking, but I am glad that I was able to be aware of how to better serve this community. I am grateful that Bridging the Gaps furthered my understanding of the health and community issues within various underserved communities in the Philadelphia area through guest speakers and presentations. As a future nurse, I hope that I will apply what I have gained this summer into my care to better serve these communities but also continue to learn and enrich my knowledge and skills and partake in health advocacy to support these communities.”

 

 

Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center

 

My Life, My Story (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns: 

Aaron Bradley, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine 

Victoria Kranz, University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine 

 

Academic Preceptors:

Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Brittany Watson, VMD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine

 

Community Preceptor:

Melissa A. Heinlein, PhD, CAVS, Chief, Voluntary Service, Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center

 

Community Site:

Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center is a nearly 300-bed tertiary care teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania that serves over 57,000 US veterans through more than 450,000 visits per year. Its mission is to honor America’s veterans by providing exceptional health care that improves their health and well-being. 

https://www.philadelphia.va.gov/

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns interviewed and collaborated with veterans at bedside to learn more about their stories and understand their perspectives. The interns recorded these conversations to later write up brief stories about the veterans in their own words. These stories help doctors and hospital leadership to acknowledge and appreciate each patient at the VA as an individual. Acknowledging who someone is and what they have been through allows medical professionals to give the best, most personalized care to every patient.

 

Intern Statements:

Aaron Bradley: “Learning about the many hardships and difficulties many of our veterans have been through has taught me to be resilient during the more difficult times of life. I am also more grateful for the freedoms and opportunities that are afforded to me by simply being a citizen of the United States.”

 

Victoria Kranz: “Hearing firsthand about the lives of veterans before, during and after their military service has reminded me that everybody has their own unique perspective on a shared experience. This project has opened my eyes to the vast diversity of VA populations and their divergent but equally important needs. There is a lot to learn from older generations, and veterans have a wealth of experience to be shared — get out and engage with your local VA to see for yourself!”

 

 

Covenant House Pennsylvania

 

Learning to Reach Teens and Learning From Reaching Teens (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns: 

Layla Abdulla, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Katie McCauley, Drexel University College of Medicine

Rebecca Schapiro, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptors: 

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

Angela W. Kim, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children 

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

 

Community Preceptors:

Aimee Della Porta, LCSW, Covenant House Pennsylvania Clinic 

Christopher Renjilian, MD, Covenant House Pennsylvania Clinic

 

Community Site:

Covenant House Pennsylvania provides housing services and pathways out of homelessness for young adults (aged 18 to 21) experiencing homelessness, housing instability or trafficking. Their crisis shelter offers low-barrier, safe, short-term housing in addition to food, social work, educational and vocational training, and medical services through a CHOP-affiliated on-site clinic. Covenant House Pennsylvania also provides transitional housing and rapid rehousing and is actively engaged in street outreach. https://www.covenanthousepa.org/

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns learned from adolescent medicine physicians in pediatrics and psychiatry through shadowing opportunities and formal discussion. The interns also embarked on three main projects. They solicited feedback from staff members to reorganize existing resources on dental care, vision care, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, substance use, childcare, physical activity and immigration/legal services. They also solicited feedback from staff members to create a health-related bulletin board with relevant materials about sexual and reproductive health, healthy relationships, stress management, parenting, support for LGBTQIA individuals, and mental health counseling. Finally, they conducted a focus group to evaluate barriers and facilitators to smoking cessation among current smokers who were staying at the crisis shelter.

 

Intern Statements:

Layla Abdulla: “After a year of medical school during the pandemic without many meaningful opportunities to engage with the community, I began to reflect on why I entered the medical field when my experience so far had only consisted of lectures. My first day at Covenant House completely erased any doubts in my mind and renewed my passion for medicine. As I worked with truly amazing and inspirational physicians who effortlessly cultivated special relationships with youth and practiced essential trauma-sensitive, strength-based care, I realized that this was exactly what I wanted to do with my life. My experience at Covenant House reaffirmed my interest in pursuing pediatric primary care, reminded me why I love medicine, and helped me find my drive again. I am so thankful for the rediscovery of my sense of purpose, the beautiful relationships I built with youth, the crucial lessons I learned from physicians, and the impact I was hopefully able to make with my projects.”

 

Katie McCauley: “I am so grateful to have spent a summer learning from the remarkable youth and staff at Covenant House. Working with adolescents was new to me, but through working with Dr. Ginsburg and Dr. Renjilian, I was able to learn about truly listening to my patients to make connections and form relationships and come away with a newfound passion for adolescent medicine. I was also able to develop a deeper understanding of the unique challenges that youth experiencing homelessness face.”

 

Rebecca Schapiro: “I have been honored to have the opportunity to learn from the incredibly resilient, caring, thoughtful and creative young folks at Covenant House. They, and passionate physicians and social workers, have taught me about how to build therapeutic and trusting relationships in a trauma-sensitive manner with a strengths-based approach. They have also shown me how to meet people where they are on their journey in life and work together to address and prioritize their medical needs.”

 

 

Educators for Education: Community Intervention Center and WorkReady Philadelphia

 

Empowering Adolescent Juvenile Philadelphia Youth Through Job Readiness, Health Education and Career Development (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns:

Angela Ding, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

Brianna Sargent, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice 

Samantha Villajin, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

Hilary Wong, 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 

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

 

Community Preceptor:

Anthony Singleton, President/Chief Executive Officer, Educators for Education

 

Community Site:

Educators for Education is a parent organization dedicated to providing educational services, professional development opportunities and social support to youth, parents and schools. Programs focus on job readiness, tutoring and mentorship. The job readiness curriculum helps students learn about the realities of today’s workforce, different career options and skills. The program also allows students to develop skills in résumé writing, interviewing and networking.

https://www.educators4education.org

 

The Community Intervention Center is a program funded by multiple agencies, including the Lackawanna- Susquehanna Office of Drug and Alcohol Programs, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program’s mission is to provide marginalized individuals with comprehensive services that foster personal empowerment, self-sustaining recovery and housing stability. Originally founded as a haven for individuals struggling with drug abuse, it has transitioned into a day shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness. http://www.communityinterventioncenter.net/history/

 

WorkReady Philadelphia is an initiative of the Philadelphia Youth Network that provides summer and year-long experiences for historically underserved Philadelphia youth in the juvenile justice system to build life and career skills. To fight multigenerational poverty and improve education through employment, WorkReady offers incentive-based programs to youth aged 12 to 24 with little work experience and wage-based programs to those aged 14 to 24 with previous work experience. WorkReady partners with more than 80 organizations throughout Philadelphia, including Educators for Education, to provide meaningful job opportunities for local youth.
https://workready.org/

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns developed relationships with young black men aged 14 to 17 through a court-mandated program at the Community Intervention Center. The interns were tasked with curating a syllabus and facilitating three online interactive workshops per week focused on professional development, personal health, finance and safety. For the workshops, the interns created 16 PowerPoints on the following topics: career options after high school, the job search process, job interviewing techniques, mental health conditions, self-care practice, mindset and reflection, résumé and cover letter writing, financial literacy, networking and public speaking, goal setting and critical thinking. The interns also developed a pre- and post-survey to help assess the effectiveness of a violence prevention program that is currently being developed. To facilitate the WorkReady program, the interns contacted dozens of youth and confirmed that they had submitted required paperwork in order to be assigned to a paid employment position. The interns also facilitated a vision board project for WorkReady participants to enhance their job readiness.

 

Intern Statements:

Angela Ding: “Interning at WorkReady in BTG CHIP gave me the opportunity to work with three extremely compassionate and hardworking Penn students and a group of bright young students. In our six weeks, my peers and I delivered presentations and created workshops on job etiquette, health and financial literacy, and mental health awareness to teach the youth important life and soft skills. While the internship was virtual, I was pleasantly surprised at the supportive community formed among my peers and I, quirky interactions with the youth, and height of radical empathy demonstrated by everyone in BTG CHIP.”

 

Brianna Sargent: “Working as a BTG intern with WorkReady Philadelphia this summer was a full-circle moment. Matriculating from being a WorkReady Philadelphia youth in high school to being an Educators for Education facilitator, I knew that this organization upholds its promise to transform its students into young professionals. It was a privilege to be on the other side as a facilitator — a challenging yet gratifying experience. Amid a pandemic, I learned the power of pivoting and was reminded that it is possible to build authentic relationships remotely.”

 

Samantha Villajin: “This summer, the BTG CHIP experience has fostered my abilities to work in a team and be thoughtful and intentional with the work I do. Coordinating virtually with my internship team, our community preceptor and our group of individual clients has enhanced my communication skills and helps put into perspective what my role is when working in a system. I also felt that the didactic sessions shed light on key social topics that impact one’s health experience and provided me with more tools to conduct personal, interactive relationships and health education.”

 

Hilary Wong: “Working as a WorkReady intern for BTG this summer was a transformative experience in my career. I collaborated with my team members of nursing and social work backgrounds to provide interdisciplinary support to a group of adolescent boys, a population that is often misunderstood. Through implementing our weekly lessons on health, career and life skills, I honed my presentation skills and learned to communicate with radical empathy to the youth. Despite the workshops being conducted in a virtual format, I learned to form strong bonds with my peers and with the youth.”

 

 

Healthy NewsWorks

 

Expanding the HNW Reach: Engaging Youth in Summer Health Workshops (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns:

Anika Valery, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Neelam Vohra, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

 

Academic Preceptors:

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:

Marian Uhlman, Executive Director and Cofounder, Healthy NewsWorks

 

Community Site:

Healthy NewsWorks is a nonprofit health media site dedicated to empowering elementary and middle school students to become writers, researchers and critical thinkers. The mission of Healthy NewsWorks is to advance health education and literacy through factual publications and digital media. https://healthynewsworks.org/

 

Project: 

The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked on creating an environment in which the school students could think critically about their own and their community members’ health, with the goal of advancing the students’ health literacy. The interns gathered contributions for a Healthy NewsWorks health news service for the students called By Kids For Kids. The interns conducted community outreach to various organizations in the Philadelphia area   that were holding summer programs or working with youth. Through this outreach, the interns identified potential organizations where they could conduct health workshops and guide students in a writing or illustration activity with the opportunity for their work to be published on the new health news site. With the help of the community preceptor, the interns identified three possible workshops  and created activity plans surrounding dental professions, sleep health and self-care. Overall, the interns’  projects required them to think critically about the ways in which health information is taught and made accessible and to work on developing their own communication skills while engaging youth to do the same.

 

Intern Statements:

Anika Valery: “My time at Healthy NewsWorks really opened my eyes to children’s ability to create and write complex  and thoughtful pieces of work, and through this experience, I have learned about the importance of enabling and empowering youth to form their own opinions in a way that can be shared with many.”

 

Neelam Vohra: “Teaching children that their voice and opinion matter is extremely important, and I am so appreciative of the opportunity this summer gave me to work with an organization that focuses on kids and their understanding of health. Getting to do this work alongside a supportive and multidisciplinary team also allowed me to learn more about professions aside from my own. I hope to use this summer experience to  continue working with communities of children and empowering them to become health educators within their community.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

HIAS

 

HIAS PA 2021 Cultural Orientation (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns:

Maxine Koza, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice 

Linda Saikali, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptors:

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

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

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

 

Community Preceptors:

Amy Eckendorf, MSW, Immigrant Wellness Program Manager, HIAS Pennsylvania 

Jennifer LaMotte, MSW, Refugee Resettlement Program Manager, HIAS Pennsylvania

 

Community Site:

HIAS Pennsylvania provides legal, resettlement, citizenship and supportive services to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from all backgrounds who are resettling in Pennsylvania, to ensure their fair treatment and full integration into American society. HIAS Pennsylvania advocates for just and inclusive practices and embraces values based on the core Jewish beliefs of “welcoming the stranger,” generosity, charity and fairness.
https://hiaspa.org/

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked across different offices within HIAS PA where they supported the organization through three projects. First, the interns compiled smoking cessation resources that will be included within existing health orientation slideshows for all clients and created a stand-alone slideshow to be used one-on-one with clients interested in pursuing treatment for tobacco use disorder. Second, the interns assisted in the creation of comprehensive health guides regarding HIV, birth control and vaccines, which will be used in the fall for new arrivals. Third, the interns conducted outreach to various pharmacies in the Philadelphia area to identify locations that can be used as vaccine referral sites for clients. In addition to the three projects, the interns accompanied HIAS clients to medical or social security appointments.

 

Intern Statements:

Maxine Koza: “Working with HIAS PA through the Bridging the Gaps program has given me the opportunity to expand my knowledge on immigrant and refugee issues going on in my community of Philadelphia. It has also given me a firsthand look at the extraordinary experience of refugees coming into the United States. I will take the experience of this summer with me in the work I do later in life, especially when working with vulnerable populations. Additionally, working on a multidisciplinary team both with Bridging the Gaps and HIAS PA has helped me grow into a more holistic critical thinker.”

 

Linda Saikali: “My time at HIAS PA has granted me valuable insight into the medical, social and legal needs of refugee and asylee populations in Pennsylvania. As a medical student interested in incorporating refugee and immigrant health into my future career, I appreciated the opportunity to expand my understanding of the complex systems that affect these groups.”

 

 

HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy

 

A Summer of Learning the Ability in Disability at HMS (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns:

Gabriella Ciancimino, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Lizzie McDonald, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice 

Pratyusha Mutyala, 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

 

Community Preceptor:

Laura Boyd, MSW, LSW, Social Worker, HMS School

 

Community Site:

HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy is in the University City neighborhood of West Philadelphia. The school serves students aged 6 to 21 who have cerebral palsy or other complex disabilities. HMS School’s mission focuses on enabling all students to reach their maximum potential. They do this by promoting independence and improving the quality of life for their students in a safe and secure environment, so that each student can lead a fulfilling, stimulating life — now and as an adult. www.hmsschool.org

 

Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns were each paired with a teacher at HMS School and served as that teacher’s assistant throughout the extended school year program. Interns assisted with recreational activities, lesson plans and student transportation to therapies. Interns also joined and observed students while they participated in physical, speech and occupational therapy. During weekly meetings with their preceptor, the interns learned about various aspects of care for the students, ranging from feeding needs to their adult transitioning period.

 

Intern Statements:

Gabriella Ciancimino: “My summer at HMS only reaffirmed my desires to serve this patient population in my future dental career. There’s no greater joy than finding your niche and discovering opportunities to grow and learn in environments that drive those passions; HMS did just that for me. The staff were extraordinary role models in displaying what it takes to effectively care for students with cerebral palsy, and the students taught me more about patience, communication and cultural humility than I could have ever imagined. I am so grateful I got to share in the students’ successes and happiness as they persevered towards their goals this summer. In an effort to become the best versions of themselves, I grew closer in becoming the best version of myself. This experience has given me momentum going into my second year of dental school, as my passions were fueled to be the future dentist and friend they all deserve.”

 

Lizzie McDonald: “I feel so lucky to have been placed at HMS School and to have been welcomed into the community by the staff and students. HMS is a joyful place where every student is seen as an individual with needs, desires and potential. I enjoyed watching how the staff individualized the learning experience to each child to ensure their needs were being met, and I learned so much from both the staff and students on how to communicate with the students and guarantee they have an enriching learning experience at school. Working at HMS was not only a great professional experience, but it provided me amazing life experience and insight into how to work with this community. I’m leaving the internship excited to continue advocating for people with cerebral palsy and hopeful that I can stay involved at the school.”

 

Pratyusha Mutyala: “The HMS School is an extraordinary place for children with special needs. The way the school is dedicated to honing each child’s strengths and uniqueness to educate and empower is truly commendable. From speech, occupational and physical therapies to various enrichment activities, the students at HMS have a holistic and nurturing school experience. All of the teachers, therapists, nurses, social workers and families at HMS have a heart of gold. I’ve learned so much from each and every one of them. During my time at HMS, I’ve grown in how I perceive individuals with disabilities. I now see the potential they have to accomplish amazing things out in the world. Each child at HMS has an

awe-inspiring story and special journey. I hope to continue on this journey with them as an advocate and friend and carry all that I’ve learned through my future career and beyond.”

 

 

Impact Services

 

Healthy Living Initiative at Hancock Manor  (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns:

Veronica Fisher, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice 

Ella Poole, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

 

Academic Preceptors:

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

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

 

Community Preceptor:

Marketta Kelly, MSS, LSW, Veteran Services, Impact Services

 

Community Site:

Impact Services works to promote community development, end veteran homelessness and provide workforce reentry programs for formerly incarcerated individuals in the Kensington area. Using a “housing-first” model, the Veteran Services department offers a variety of housing and case management services to address the needs of homeless and low-income veterans and their families. https://www.impactservices.org/

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns helped Impact Services begin implementing their Healthy Living Initiative at their Hancock Manor housing facility. The interns developed and distributed a survey for residents to share their perspectives on tobacco use and the building’s new tobacco-free policy. They assisted  Impact staff with hosting a listening session to hear the residents’ health concerns for the building, and based on a request for more social activities, restarted a morning “coffee club” event to foster community. The interns also helped organize a health fair that brought in a variety of community partners. At the health fair, the interns provided education about oral health and getting connected with a local dentist and handed out oral health supplies provided through the BTG program.

 

Intern Statements: 

Veronica Fisher: “The Bridging the Gaps program provided me with the opportunity to engage with and serve a population that is frequently forgotten and was particularly impacted during the  COVID-19 pandemic. Creating opportunities for larger site goals to be accomplished, interacting with residents and recognizing the devastation of the pandemic were all experiences in which I am grateful to have taken part. Throughout the program, I was continually amazed at the resiliency of the human spirit to endure and find joy amidst overwhelming circumstances and disparities. I will take the lessons learned from this past summer with me for the rest of my professional and personal life.”

 

Ella Poole: “During my time with Impact Services, I had the opportunity to hear directly from veterans and those who work closely with them about what health concerns are most important to them. I learned a lot about the relationships between substance use disorders, other mental health disorders, traumatic experiences and social isolation. I also appreciated the opportunity to work in conjunction with a clinical social work student, who shared many insights about meeting  clients where they’re at and addressing mental health issues. I will incorporate what I learned into my future practice by approaching my patients with a nonjudgmental and empowering posture and letting them set the priorities for what we address first as we work towards their health and wellness.”

 

 

John C. Anderson Apartments

 

Assessing LGBTQ+ Senior Community Needs (click to view Poster)

 

Student Intern: 

Saryu Sanghani, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor: 

Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

 

Community Preceptor: 

Ed Miller, Senior Programs Manager, William Way LGBT Community Center

 

Community Site: 

The John C. Anderson Apartments are part of an urban LGBTQ+-friendly senior apartment community located in the heart of Center City Philadelphia. JCAA is very near the William Way LGBT Community Center, which serves the LGBTQ+ community of Philadelphia. The two groups work closely to provide various programs, events and community engagement opportunities to foster an inclusive and supportive environment for the seniors living at JCAA.

 

Project: 

The Bridging the Gaps student interns conducted an annual survey designed to assess the needs of the LGBTQ+ senior community at JCAA and gather feedback on existing programming. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, much of JCAA’s programming was either paused or conducted virtually. As JCAA resumes in-person activities over the coming months, it is important to have gathered feedback through this year’s survey on the levels of interest in various programs, existing barriers, and access to resources, given the difficulties and massive interruption of normalcy in the past year and a half. The interns organized the survey results into graphics that will help guide William Way and JCAA in future programming and engagement opportunities.

 

Intern Statement:

Saryu Sanghani: “As a future health professional, I was impacted deeply by working with JCAA. It placed me at the unique intersection of two marginalized communities — LGBTQ+ members and older adults. Being able to join in on different weekly programs and discussions provided me with nuanced insight on the perspectives of LGBTQ+ seniors and the experiences they have lived through. I interacted with elders who participated in marches for gay rights activism throughout the early decades of LGBTQ+ rights movements. I learned about the painful experiences of living through the HIV/AIDS crisis, and I learned about the evolution of what we know today as Pride parades. It made me reflect on the shared threads of social justice movements that cross generational barriers when considering the sociocultural and political climates of the present day. Simultaneously, my exposure to the diverse experiences reinforced that to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community is not at all a monolith. Despite the limitations of a virtual internship, the opportunities offered by this site truly allowed me to feel immersed in and inspired by the LGBTQ+ community.”

 

 

MANNA

 

The Impact of Nutrition in 2021: Food as Medicine (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns:

Daniel Huynh, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing 

Ruby Lu, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Monika Patel, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

 

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 Preceptors:

Adrian Glass Crafford, MPH, MANNA

Jule Anne Henstenburg, PhD, RD, LDN, FAND, MANNA 

 

Community Site:

MANNA is a leader in the food-as-medicine movement for patients with serious illnesses and nutritional risk in the Philadelphia and New Jersey area. MANNA produces and delivers medically tailored meals to patients who are undergoing cancer treatment and kidney dialysis or living with heart failure, HIV/AIDS and/or uncontrolled diabetes as part of their medical treatment until they are nutritionally stable. To further assist and provide support, registered dietitians counsel patients on therapeutic dietary needs and provide nutrition education with the goal that patients will be able to prepare meals that meet their medical needs after they complete MANNA’s program.
https://mannapa.org/

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked on a variety of projects at MANNA. One intern helped create MANNA’s annual client survey, which provides valuable feedback on meals, health outcomes, nutrition education and the delivery process. With the goal of increasing survey response rate and aware of the relatively low digital literacy and older age of MANNA’s primary clients, the intern recommended switching from a solely digital survey to both digital and paper versions. She also revamped the design of the paper survey to improve the overall client experience.

 

Another intern created a quality-of-life survey for patients receiving MANNA’s program through insurance providers. This short survey will be posted on the MANNA website to help make it more accessible for patients to provide feedback on the medically tailored meals and nutrition counseling services provided by MANNA. The intern researched quality-of-life measures and different modes of survey evaluation in the process of creating the survey and met with MANNA’s dieticians to learn more about the nutrition counseling process.

 

The third intern helped analyze previous client data, focusing on what demographics were not being reached. The intern looked to see what diseases were specific to these underserved communities and helped outline ways MANNA could reach those populations. As an extension of the outline, the intern also compiled a list of other community organizations that work directly with these hard-to-reach communities so that MANNA can collaborate with these sites in the future. The goal of the project was to make MANNA more culturally inclusive and accessible to those in need.

 

Intern Statements:

Daniel Huynh: “As a nursing student, social determinants of health have always been an emphasis within the curriculum; however, Bridging the Gaps has allowed me to further explore these determinants and apply them in a real-life setting. Working at MANNA this summer allowed me to combine my love for food and nutrition while gaining a deeper understanding of the Philadelphia community. I believe that nutrition is a critical part to preventative medicine, and each meal is a step towards better health. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to work with an organization like MANNA that aligns with my views.”

 

Ruby Lu: “As a first-year dental student, even though most of our time is spent studying dense science courses, Penn Dental also puts an emphasis on making sure we are aware of the needs of the local Philadelphia community. I decided to be part of BTG because of the opportunity it offers to directly serve the local community. Despite the internship being mostly virtual, my experience with BTG in the last few weeks has been nothing but eye-opening and fulfilling. Every piece of the program, including the weekly seminars and working with MANNA directly, provided me a deeper understanding of the community and myself. Another meaningful experience I got out of the internship is the opportunity to develop interprofessional relationships between different healthcare providers. Being able to gain an understanding of every healthcare provider’s perspective and see how each plays a role in serving the community has benefited me in the long run. Finally, as a firm believer that food is medicine, it truly has been a privilege to be able to be part of MANNA this summer!”

 

Monika Patel: “Throughout my life, I have consistently felt the importance of becoming heavily involved with my community. During my first year in dental school, I longed for an opportunity to allow my learning to go beyond the walls of the classroom, and I wanted to expand my knowledge on health and human interaction. Working with MANNA through BTG provided me with everything that I could have asked for in the summer. I really enjoyed learning more about my community and having the opportunity to focus on nutritional needs in disease processes. I frequently think about how having access to a wide variety of sources of nutrition is a luxury. Chronic and serious illnesses pose so many challenges as it is, I love that MANNA works towards helping tackle the hurdle that further perpetuates the challenge of nutritional intake.”

 

 

No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc.

 

I Am Enough: A Campaign to Empower Marginalized Women of Philadelphia Experiencing Period Poverty (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns:

Minjung (Julia) Kim, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine 

Elena Montag, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine 

Kaitlin Murphy, University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine

 

Academic Preceptors:

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

Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

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

Brittany Watson, VMD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine 

 

Community Preceptors:

Nya McGlone, MS, No More Secrets MBS Inc.

Lynette Medley, MEd, No More Secrets MBS Inc. 

 

Community Site:

With a mission to decrease stigmas, silence and secrecy by increasing self-esteem, socialization and self-love, No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc. addresses period poverty through a harm-reduction model, providing menstrual and personal hygiene products directly to menstruators. The organization aims to empower and decrease risk in vulnerable populations, promote honest discussions about periods, and provide education and solutions for people experiencing period poverty.
https://www.nomoresecretsmbs.org

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns designed and implemented a multifocal, contact-based literacy campaign to promote female empowerment and combat stigma surrounding menstrual health and period poverty. They created educational and self-advocacy resources, including an interactive patient self-advocacy booklet to guide doctor’s visits. They engaged with the community through multiple mediums with the goal of reaching a wider audience. This included curating social media content and culminated in a Community Day featuring menstrual product distribution and an empowerment-focused communal art project. Team members anticipate a lasting impact, particularly through work involving data collection and analysis.

 

Intern Statements:

Minjung (Julia) Kim: “In the past year as a dental student, we’ve been taught to see our patients as a construction consisting of their many parts — osteological, muscular, vascular and so on. This past summer as a Bridging the Gaps intern at No More Secrets, I’ve been taught to see people through the lens of dignity and integrity. When I see a patient in front of me, I want to be an advocate for their needs, physiological and beyond, and see them through the lens of compassion and respect. This summer also deeply impacted my perspective of the community of Philadelphia. Learning more about the systemic injustices that plague Philadelphians, especially those living in poverty, I feel a greater desire to connect with and empower those in this community.”

 

Elena Montag: “Though I have always been passionate about women’s health issues and addressing healthcare disparities and discrimination, this summer has deepened my awareness of these problems and equipped me with more tools to combat them in my career. Learning from No More Secrets and its community about the stigmatization and dismissal of menstruation and period poverty has illuminated just one of the many obstacles that many women of color and women in poverty experience. Through working with Lynette and Nya, NMS’s amazing founders, I have seen the incredible strength, love, dignity and respect that NMS projects and provides to those who need and deserve it most. I hope to keep educating and improving myself and openly listening to the needs of the community so that I can follow their remarkable examples.”

 

Kaitlin Murphy: “This summer was full of encounters that challenged and informed my worldview, and, because of this, I began to question myself more. There will always be moments when I say or do the wrong thing. I’m human. By recognizing that my initial thoughts and responses are not always a reflection of my values, I was able to separate myself from my expectations and examine them more objectively. Instead of feeling the need to defend my fundamental goodness, I’m able to focus on what really matters: being better.”

 

 

Philadelphia Family Pride

Creating Community With Zoom: Paths to Parenthood Classes With Philadelphia Family Pride (click to view Poster)

 

Student Intern:
Sara Banbury, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptors:
Hillary Bogner, MD, MSCE, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

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

 

Community Preceptor:
Stephanie Haynes, Philadelphia Family Pride

 

Community Site:
Philadelphia Family Pride (PFP) is a community organization for LGBTQ+ parents, prospective parents, grandparents and their children or grandchildren of all ages, including adults and infants. PFP supports families in the greater Philadelphia region through advocacy, education and inclusive family-centered events.

philadelphiafamilypride.org

 

Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern’s primary project was to organize and run the Paths to  Parenthood summer seminar series, PFP’s annual classes on how to expand one’s LGBTQ+-led family. The project involved reaching out to local content experts as well as recruiting a diverse set of LGBTQ+ parents who could speak to the many paths to family building. The student intern also collaborated with PFP’s conference planning team to begin organizing an in-person conference in the fall. Lastly, the student intern helped PFP update its member database.

 

Intern Statement:
Sara Banbury: “Working at Philadelphia Family Pride was an amazing opportunity to develop a diverse skill set in an extremely welcoming and supportive environment. Even working remotely, I felt like I got to know the organization very well. Additionally, because it was a small organization, I felt like my work was truly helpful to them. I learned a lot about putting on and marketing events as well as how to develop relationships with community members.”

 

 

Prevention Point Philadelphia

 

Harm Reduction in Kensington (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns:

Lydia Lutz, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine 

Amanda Perez, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptors:

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

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

 

Community Preceptors:

M. Holliday-Davis, STEP Coordinator, Prevention Point Philadelphia

Maggie Lowenstein, MD, MPhil, MSHP, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Kaelee Shepherd, MPH, STEP Coordinator, Prevention Point Philadelphia 

 

Community Site:

Prevention Point Philadelphia is a comprehensive social services agency dedicated to harm reduction and accessible healthcare for communities affected by drug use and poverty. Since its origin 30 years ago as an underground syringe exchange program, Prevention Point has expanded its services to include overdose prevention, wound care, medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders, Narcan training and distribution, meal services, and case management related to housing, healthcare and other intersecting issues affecting the community. Prevention Point works toward equity, justice and unconditional support for individuals and communities impacted by risk behaviors.
https://ppponline.org/

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns assisted in a variety of harm reduction projects at Prevention Point Philadelphia, including overdose prevention outreach, syringe exchange and the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) mobile site. The interns distributed Narcan to participants in Kensington and Frankford and trained individuals on how to administer Narcan. They assisted in passing out syringes and supplies during the syringe exchange, so individuals in the community would be able to inject drugs safely. They also created a flyer to educate individuals about the COVID-19 vaccine.

 

Intern Statements: 

Lydia Lutz: “I’ve been passionate about urban underserved care, street medicine for people experiencing homelessness and social justice approaches to health for many years. Harm reduction is an emerging interest of mine, and it has been an immense privilege to learn from an organization that is deeply committed to empowering and protecting their community. I would argue that Prevention Point Philadelphia is the single best place in the country to learn about harm reduction. Working with Prevention Point this summer has continued to kindle my passion for service-based medicine, and I look forward to incorporating harm reduction into my future career.” 

 

Amanda Perez: “Harm reduction has been a passion of mine since before medical school and working at Prevention Point this summer reminded me why it is important that individuals with substance use disorders have access to good harm reduction resources in their community. This experience has inspired me to continue to do work in advocating for quality healthcare for my future patients with substance use disorders and to advocate for policy changes that can positively impact the lives of those affected by this disease. My BTG internship further solidified my desire to pursue addiction medicine in the future.” 

 

 

Public Citizens for Children and Youth

 

The Fight to End Childhood Lead Poisoning (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns: 

Shaheen Jaisingh, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Anahita Sabet-Payman, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor: 

Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

 

Community Preceptor: 

Beth Dougherty, Health Projects Coordinator, Public Citizens for Children and Youth

 

Community Site:

Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) is a child advocacy organization based in Southeastern Pennsylvania. PCCY works to improve the lives of our region’s children by developing initiatives and advocating for quality healthcare, childcare, public education and family stability.
www.pccy.org

 

Project: 

The Bridging the Gaps student interns joined the Delaware County Lead Poisoning Prevention Coalition at PCCY this summer. The Coalition strives to protect children from the detrimental effects of lead poisoning. The Coalition has two main goals: to get lead out of homes and to ensure that all children are screened for lead poisoning twice before the age of 2. Over the summer, the interns researched the approaches that health departments bordering Delaware County employ in tackling lead poisoning and prevention to make recommendations to the new Delaware County Health Department. They researched strategies used by pediatric/family medicine practices to encourage lead testing and strategies health insurance plans use to support providers to do more testing; analyzed the location of the HUD Lead Hazard Reduction grants in Pennsylvania to determine how Delaware County can distribute the grants to landlords and homeowners; created a spreadsheet of doulas, ob-gyns, pediatric practices and family medicine practices in Delaware Country and contacted them to offer lead poison prevention training from PCCY; found organizations and events in Delaware County and Philadelphia as potential outreach opportunities to promote awareness about lead poisoning and PCCY’s Insurance Helpline; outlined Korfmacher’s book, “Bridging Silos,” to determine how the Rochester, New York, coalition combated the lead poisoning epidemic; and met with local legislators and community leaders at events such as lead coalition panel discussions.

 

Intern Statements: 

Shaheen Jaisingh: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience working for PCCY through Bridging the Gaps this summer. I have gained a deeper insight into the public health issue of childhood lead poisoning and its long-lasting impact on many aspects in communities. Additionally, I now have a better understanding of how nonprofit organizations are run and how they conduct advocacy work. I am grateful that I was able to learn a lot this summer and believe that this awareness will be beneficial to me as a future healthcare provider.”

 

Anahita Sabet-Payman: “I am very thankful for my time at PCCY this past summer. I never thought I would even have had the opportunity to make an impact in the community outside of my specific discipline, so I am grateful for this experience of working with a diverse group of people towards a common goal. It showed me that despite unique backgrounds and areas of expertise, we as a society are able to come together as one and make a difference.”

 

 

Puentes de Salud

 

Puentes de Salud (click to view Poster)

 

Student Intern: 

Ivan Covarrubias, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine 

 

Academic Preceptor:

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

 

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’s project was to create a report comparing the food insecurity of Puentes clients between the first and second phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. The intern assisted in conducting interviews over the phone with clients of the food distribution program to assess their changing conditions. The intern also worked on site at the Puentes de Salud food pharmacy to recruit new food-insecure clients to the food distribution program. 

 

Intern Statement: 

Ivan Covarrubias: “Participating in BTG CHIP was an enriching experience. Over the last seven weeks I learned about the diverse lives and experiences of South Philadelphia community members. I learned about how food insecurity affects multiple dimensions of health, and the experience inspired me to approach medicine more holistically. I learned how to be more proactively diligent when serving disadvantaged populations who have very limited resources to turn to. Working with Puentes de Salud reaffirmed my desire to work with immigrant populations in my future career.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sankofa Community Farm at Bartram’s Garden

 

Farming as a Tool for Gap Bridging (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns:

Chidinma Wilson, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine 

Annie Yang, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

 

Academic Preceptors:

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

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

 

Community Preceptor:

Tyler Holmberg, Co-Director, Sankofa Community Farm at Bartram’s Garden

 

Community Site: 

Sankofa Community Farm, located in the heart of Southwest Philadelphia, is an Afrocentric agricultural organization focused on youth development, community health and food sovereignty. This four-acre farm at Bartram’s Garden produces over 15,000 pounds of food yearly and is powered by approximately 1,500 volunteers, 50 local families and 20 high school interns. With strong local leadership and access to fresh fruits and vegetables, Sankofa Farm serves as a dynamic agricultural hub and main partner for sustaining youth development, community health and food sovereignty. At its roots, Sankofa is derived from the Akan people of West Africa and challenges each to remain cognizant of the past while charging toward the future, the idea of “remembering” as a tool for healing and growing.

 

Project: 

The Bridging the Gaps student interns supported staff in coordinating the youth program at Sankofa Community Farm. Every Thursday afternoon, the interns led 30-minute health-related wellness workshops followed by discussions with high school students to help ensure that the students are abiding by the farm’s expectation policies. Using the I-statement, interns, students and staff exchanged feedback on common areas of improvement. Interns and staff members also spent one-on-one time with students to foster connection and understanding during field work. Importantly, the interns worked closely with the cooking staff to prepare meals three times a week for every member of the farm.

 

Intern Statements:

Chidinma Wilson: “This summer experience has positively impacted my professional and personal life. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about agriculture from an African diasporic lens, an acquired experience that both shed light on the storied past of certain crops and helped contextualize their role in today’s culture. Additionally, I enjoyed speaking with staff members and students as we worked together, which helped me learn more about beautiful aspects of the Southwest and West Philadelphia communities: cohesiveness, familial ties and oral storytelling traditions. I remain grateful for discussions on community challenges such as gun violence and food apartheid. The wisdom I gained from coworkers and students will continue to inform my decision making as I work towards becoming a compassionate physician and impactful community partner.”

 

Annie Yang: “The BTG CHIP experience provided me with the opportunity to interact with the urban farmers in the Southwest Philadelphia community. The farmers at Sankofa practice natural agriculture and African diasporic rooted farming as a method of healing from America’s heavy history, particularly when discussing slavery. Sankofa also strives to enhance food sovereignty and establish trust by educating the residents of Southwest Philadelphia about its beautiful agricultural practice, which I am honored to be a part of. As an important takeaway, I hope to center my care around patient education when I become a nurse. Something significant that I noticed while chatting with the staff members in the farm is widespread gun violence, with ensuing deaths being desensitized among community members as almost everyone knew of a victim of gun violence. Taken together, I aspire to treat my patients with an abundance of patience in my future role as a healthcare provider.”

 

 

Southwest Community Development Corporation

 

Southwest CDC OST McDaniels Program: BTG Health Adventures! (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns: 

Andrew Bradshaw, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice

Michelle James, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine 

Robert (Drew) Kilker, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Nursing and Health Professions

Brittany M. Perez, University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary 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 

Brittany Watson, VMD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine

 

Community Preceptor:

Lorraine Thomas, Operations Manager, Southwest Community Development Corporation

 

Community Site:

The Southwest Community Development Corporation (CDC) is a nonprofit organization located in Southwest Philadelphia that provides comprehensive services for the community such as employment opportunities, housing counseling, after-school programming, economic development and an in-house newspaper known as the Globe Times. This summer, the Southwest CDC collaborated with the Philadelphia School District and the Office of Children and Families to provide Out of School Time (OST) programming to 4th- through 8th-graders at the McDaniels Elementary School in South Philadelphia. https://southwestcdc.org/

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns created 30-minute activity plans for eight classes of 4th- through 8th-graders on a variety of health topics, including oral hygiene, cardiovascular health, pulmonary health, social-emotional learning, animal anatomy and One Health. The activities, such as turning students into oxygen-rich blood cells or pinning bones on an animal skeleton, highlighted the health topics and the way they affect the students’ individual lives and the community around them. The purpose of these lessons was to instill practices and habits for a more holistic approach to self and community care.

 

Intern Statements: 

Andrew Bradshaw: “The commitment of Southwest CDC staff to the students at McDaniels was truly infectious. This was the first year of partnership for Southwest CDC with the Philadelphia School District and the Office of Children and Families, and despite the logistical challenges that come with any new partnership, site staff remained unwaveringly focused on the prosperity and well-being of their students by finding creative solutions and opportunities for successful programming. Southwest CDC embodied the commitment, resilience and grace of its community — hallmarks too frequently overlooked by local news coverage. The truth is that all of us from health schools (students and faculty alike) could gain from collaborating with and following the lead of local organizations like Southwest CDC to more holistically approach systemic obstacles with complementary assets and community strengths. As a social worker, I can only hope to emulate this modeled passion and dedication while helping communities strive toward a secure and healthy vision.”

 

Michelle James: “My BTG experience has illuminated the ways in which people from multiple disciplines can come together to educate and offer different perspectives to the students of South Philadelphia. It allowed me to see the impact that healthcare professionals, like dentists, have on children outside of a clinical setting. The whole experience has taught me how to present topics like the importance of oral hygiene in a more relatable manner. I was inspired by the attention, care and enthusiasm that the entire Southwest CDC staff embodied in trying to actively engage and enhance the students’ summer. As an aspiring dentist, I hope to encompass the commitment towards community outreach and continue to make people smile.” 

 

Drew Kilker: “As a Bridging the Gaps intern, I was afforded a unique opportunity that I wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for being a nursing student at Thomas Jefferson University. During my internship, I worked with the Southwest CDC organization as an Out-of-School Time staff at the McDaniel school located in South Philadelphia. I worked with students ranging from 4th to 8th grade. My task included creating lesson plans and carrying out the drafted lessons. A lot of trial and error was met through creating these lesson plans, and it definitely gave me a new respect for what teachers deal with. Overall, my BTG team worked amazingly together, and I think this made for a truly successful experience.”

 

Brittany Perez: “My involvement with Bridging the Gaps (BTG) and the Southwest Community Development Corporation (CDC) has exemplified the importance of interdisciplinary work regarding health-related services within the community. One of the many highlights of my summer was interacting with middle school students and establishing fun, creative ways to improve our communication skills amongst each other. After a year of virtual learning, it was great to finally be back in a classroom, teaching and inspiring the next generation of children. The opportunity to discuss One Health topics with the Out-of-School Time (OST) staff, students and working with my amazing team of fellow graduate students allowed me to share my knowledge of animal welfare and personal experience with social engagement.”

 

 

Students Run Philly Style

 

Running as a Medium for Change  (click to view Poster)

 

Student Interns:

Tyler Lavender, University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine

Katherine Lietz, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice 

 

Academic Preceptors:

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

Brittany Watson, VMD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine 

 

Community Preceptor:

Andrew Kucer, JD, Executive Director, Students Run Philly Style

 

Community Site:

Students Run Philly Style (SRPS) transforms students’ lives through running and mentorship. The organization pairs volunteer running leaders with teams of students to inspire them to push themselves further than they ever imagined. Their goal: the completion of a full or a half marathon. Located in Philadelphia, Students Run serves Philly youth from middle to high school age. The organization has four main programs: OUTpace, programming to increase health outcomes for LGBTQ youth; the Marathon Model, in which students train with mentors from March to December to run the half or full Philadelphia Marathon; the School Year Model, in which students train with mentors from September to June; and MileUp, a diversion program that brings running and mentorship to youth facing delinquency charges who were formerly ineligible for restorative interventions.
https://studentsrunphilly.org/

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked on two major projects over the summer. They assisted the director of development in his fundraising efforts for the organization’s upcoming gala by emailing donors, learning how to input data into new fundraising software, and assisting the team in streamlining their fundraising efforts. Additionally, the interns worked closely with the associate director of MileUp to develop an interactive handbook for the diversion program’s incoming cohort of peer mentors. When not focused on these two major projects, the interns assisted at community summits, SRPS races and in-person fundraising events.

 

Intern Statements:

Tyler Lavender: “Working in a community organization completely unrelated to traditional veterinary medicine, I did not expect to find overlap. However, in our BTG Wednesday sessions, and in my group discussions, I gained a broader perspective on public health problems, and learned that human health and animal health are not so different. In terms of barriers to healthcare access, the two systems are very similar. By supporting marginalized groups and underserved populations in one area of health, we can have positive impacts on other areas as well. This concept is one I hope to weave into my professional career, as I look at expanding access to healthcare and improving public health from a One Health perspective.”

 

Kate Lietz: “When I heard I’d be spending my summer with a running organization, I wasn’t sure what to think. While I certainly love being active and am passionate about exploring the impact of the mind-body connection, I didn’t envision myself working in a setting that I perceived to be solely focused on physical fitness. My initial perceptions were quickly challenged, as I realized not only the range of programming that SRPS offers, but also the earnest way their team lives out the values of courage, effort and respect.”

 

 

UC Green

 

Paul Robeson Garden Community Research Project (click to view Poster)

 

Student Intern:

Clarisa Yee, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

 

Academic Preceptor:

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

 

Community Preceptor:

Kiasha Huling, MSW, Director, UC Green

 

Community Site: 

With the motto “Trees make great neighbors,” UC Green is a nonprofit organization started in University City whose mission is to improve West Philadelphia neighborhoods and promote a greener Philadelphia. The founding vision was for UC Green to be the bridge that fosters connection between community organizations, city agencies, university students and residents on local environmental efforts. This is accomplished by the organization’s efforts to empower volunteer environmental stewardship among community members through partnerships, such as with Bartram’s Garden and Holly Street Neighbors Community Garden, and educational initiatives. UC Green also coordinates community engagement projects and addresses residents’ barriers to greening and tree planting. While the organization is operating with both in-person and remote operations due to COVID-19, UC Green remains active in supporting the growth and prosperity of West Philadelphia.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student intern served as a coordinator for a community-led initiative: working in partnership with the Paul Robeson House to create a wellness garden at the historical cultural center at 49th and Walnut streets with plants (e.g., aromatics, medicinal herbs) that are mindful of the Robeson family’s and community’s historical and cultural perspectives. The intern worked on a team of skilled neighbors who were knowledgeable about preservation and horticulture along with other enthusiastic community members to explore the plants common during Paul Robeson’s era, the historical connection between the Robeson family and horticulture, and the use of medicinal herbs in West Philly. The intern also created an educational infographic on the impact of trees and urban planting on health, while deterring residents from smoking. She also facilitated weekly meetings, organized research material for members and created deadlines to keep the project on track.

 

Intern Statement:

Clarisa Yee: “As a student not originally from Philadelphia, I have often found myself disconnected from the community and living in a bubble. However, this summer Bridging the Gaps gave me the chance to explore and make an impact on the West Philadelphia community. Even in a remote position, I was able to still build relationships with my community preceptor at UC Green and passionate community residents as we worked on a community garden project aimed to beautify and bring serenity to the neighborhood, together. This collaboration allowed me to gain another perspective on Philadelphia, and I am also grateful for the chance to be a part of the garden project that aims to bring serenity and beauty to the residents. I can’t wait to see the garden in the fall and all that we’ve done come into fruition! This summer, I’ve also learned the importance of flexibility and communication and gained leadership experience that I will bring with me in all my future endeavors.”