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CCIU Migrant Education Program

Together, We Are Stronger (click to view poster) 

Student Interns: 

Eduardo Moreno, Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Kavya Viswanathan, Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Academic Preceptor:
Jeremiah Goldstein, MD, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Community Preceptor: 
Karisa Barlow, CCIU Migrant Education Program

Community Site: 
The CCIU (Chester County Intermediate Unit) Migrant Education Program works closely with various migrant communities in the Philadelphia area to provide a full-time summer education program where children from pre-K to high school are encouraged to develop fluency in the English language through literacy, STEM, music, and dance classes, as well as through multiple field trips to various sites in the greater Philadelphia area.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked together, applying their different levels of artistic knowledge to create music and dance spaces that would encourage children to explore different ways of self-expression. They worked closely with all age groups from pre-K to high school, promoting socialization and giving the students the opportunity to explore different forms of expression and music genres; this sparked conversations that enhanced the ultimate goal of promoting the development of literacy and English fluency. Dance, movement, playing music with various instruments, and music appreciation of all genres were the focus.

Intern Statements: 

Eduardo Moreno and Kavya Viswanathan: “Our time together as BTG interns has been incredibly valuable. Having the opportunity to work closely with CCIU at the John H. Taggart School in South Philadelphia not only allowed the children to learn music and dance as a way of self-expression; it also promoted self-reflection in both of us thinking ahead at our professional future as healthcare practitioners within our field of creative art therapies. The kids’ lack of fluency in English did not stop them from trying to communicate their opinions and ideas regarding our space together and how they wanted to use it. Therefore, it was up to us to use their energy to create a space of joy, exploration, and freedom to fully express ourselves.

 

Considering the perspectives of the children, from the very young to the older ones, was incredibly impactful when defining ways to connect with them. Allowing them to play their music and explain why they feel driven to listen to it. Exploring different instruments, regardless of whether they knew how to play them, promotes autonomy and self-esteem when accomplishing a musical goal. Promoting dances and movements to explore ways to release stress and tension using our body in a healthy way. Our time together was marked by the notion of learning together instead of them only learning from us.

 

We take these lessons, and we are confident we will find ways to translate them into our fields, always focusing on the well-being of our patients just like we have focused on the well-being of our students during these past couple of weeks.

Frankie's World

Frankie’s World Summer Day Camp (click to view poster)

Student Interns: 

Reilly Callahan, Drexel University College of Medicine

Mark Cameron, Drexel University College of Medicine

Irene Schaible, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Kelley White, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptor: 
Conny Lockwood, Frankie’s World

Community Site: 
Frankie’s World is a nonprofit medical day-care center and preschool for children with special and medical needs in the Philadelphia area. At Frankie’s, the staff of skilled nurses and teachers provides comprehensive care and early-childhood education to encourage physical, social, and educational development. As a safe, accepting place for children from all walks of life, Frankie’s World serves its community as a place to play, learn, and grow together.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student interns assisted Frankie’s World in planning, organizing, and leading a summer camp for current Frankie’s members and graduated students. Each day, the interns planned and led educational lessons, craft activities, and group games for children aged 5 to 10. The interns incorporated a range of activities to help the students practice both gross and fine motor skills and to encourage their social and emotional development. For one-on-one and group activities, the interns used fun, kid-friendly techniques to promote comprehensive physical and mental wellness within the community. The interns also created a resource guide full of additional activities and lessons for Frankie’s staff to use in the remaining month of summer camp after the BTG program ended.

Intern Statements: 

Reilly Callahan: “Frankie’s World seamlessly integrates all aspects of care for children. Care here goes beyond merely providing healthcare, as it merges educational, physical, and emotional learning for patients. At Frankie’s, staff intentionally bridge gaps between patients’ healthcare providers and their families. Seeing the impact of this organization has underscored the importance of delivering comprehensive and easily understandable patient education that melds within the lives of my patients and their families.”

 

Mark Cameron: “Frankie’s World allows for all children to have a chance to play and, in the words of Frankie herself, have a friend. Here it does not matter if you have trouble seeing, wear a backpack with a G-tube and feed, or have to take breaks from activity to monitor your blood sugar. There is space for everyone, and staff with the expertise to handle it. The children here offer a unique window into their world. While they can have trouble communicating their ideas, they are brutally honest — except when they don’t want to admit breaking a rule. They speak about their families, their challenges, and how they interact with the world using their own forms of communication. I am grateful for the time I spent with the children here, the lessons they taught me on how they see the world through their eyes, and the insight into care from all the staff here.”

 

Irene Schaible: “Frankie’s World is a place where all kids get to be just a kid. It’s a place where sick kids who otherwise would spend their days with a home-care nurse get to interact with other kids, develop social skills, learn, and play. Frankie’s World provides experienced nurses who ensure the kids receive great medical care while still allowing them to run and play. Working with these kids over the past several weeks and seeing how they adapt the activities to their own abilities has been both fun and educational. The impact that Frankie’s World has on these kids, their physical and mental health, and their families is tremendous, and I am grateful to have played a small part in contributing to it.”

 

 

Heights Philadelphia

Reaching New Heights: Nurturing Adolescents in Urban Environments (click to view poster)

Student Interns: 

Tiffany Holmes, Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Tahiyya Khan, Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health

Milan Patel, Drexel University College of Medicine

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

Community Preceptor: 
Daniel Ceva, Heights Philadelphia

Community Site: 
Heights Philadelphia (a merger of Philadelphia Futures and Steppingstone Scholars) is committed to transforming the pathways to college and career for Philadelphia’s students. Heights’ vision is to create a place where Black, brown, and first-generation scholars find support to reach their full potential. When all students graduate high school and achieve economic mobility, this community thrives.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student interns assisted with two sessions in academic classrooms each day and led an hour-long elective class titled Arts, Crafts, and Expression. The elective focused on one-time lessons similar to home economics, encompassing nutritional food choices, sewing, sustainability, debating, storytelling, and movement styles. The end of each academic day consisted of a one-hour lesson on skills needed for high school, college, and beyond (study skills, healthy habits, leadership styles, etc.). The interns also acted as additional chaperones for field trips.

Intern Statements: 

Tiffany Holmes: “This experience has given me a lot of information on what it takes to help adolescents I’m meeting for the first time feel safe enough to share difficult information with an adult. Since I plan to work with adolescents (from early to late adolescence) in my career, this summer experience has been vital to cultivating my approach. While much of the information I used or was shared with me over the summer specific to adolescents is information I have already learned through academic and life experiences, the confirmation in a new setting helped to solidify my desire to work with this age group. These kids are smart, tuned in to their environment (both positively and negatively), and at a pivotal point in their development. This is where they start to make choices for themselves to either continue the path they have been on so far in their lives or to change the direction they are headed. It has also been a great experience to witness in real time other adults come to the same realizations about the abilities and the importance of this age group that I have. I feel like it’s easy to see resistant behavior as disrespect instead of a vying for control in a world/life where these kids may have little to none. Since we are working with (primarily) minority kids in an urban setting where a lot of spaces decide these kids won’t be successful before they even graduate, I feel like this is the time and the age group where they need adults with the most understanding. In my experience, some adults keep that adolescent mentality of seeking control in a world where they have so little. This is especially true in oppressed and downtrodden environments. The work this summer has reinforced for me the values I learned at 11th Street Family Health Services and the sanctuary model. It is a reminder to look at the ‘why’ behind so-called bad behaviors and habits, not just the ‘what.’ My time spent at Heights Philadelphia has solidified for me the need for adults who specialize in the adolescent age group for support, for understanding, and to believe in what they can accomplish.”

 

Tahiyya Khan: “The Heights community welcomed me with open arms to become a role model for students during one of their more difficult and vulnerable areas of being an adolescent. Having no prior experience working with this age group, I felt very unprepared at first. With the help of the wonderful staff, I was able to become more confident and share the appreciation and commitment that they had regarding the students and their passion to see them succeed. Being with the students during my time here has been very enlightening, as they have shown that learning and growth are gifts that should not be taken for granted. Their awareness of the knowledge they have gained so far has allowed me to support students in growing their confidence and recognize that self-expression plays an important role in all aspects of life. Throughout my time, I was able to watch the students make meaningful relationships with others and engage in thoughtful discussions that they felt would be important to them in the near future.

I saw how the concept of learning became a continuous loop among the students and staff, and how open-minded the community was in receiving help and support from each other. They additionally gave me the ability to think outside of the box to mentor students in mental health using creative strategies as a stress outlet. Being part of an environment that encouraged different opportunities for minority students to enter higher education despite the present barriers made me feel proud, and that the power of a few can create an impact of many benefits. This experience has given me the aim to continue empowering others through education with the same ambition that I saw throughout the students as a public health professional.”

 

Milan Patel: “Heights Philadelphia provided a unique experience where I was able to mentor students directly at an age where mentorship and good habits create long-lasting lifestyle interpretations and changes. Being able to interact with the students at first was nerve-racking, yet it quickly became an extremely impactful and fulfilling experience. Heights was not my first interaction with students in this age group (as I have worked with second-year high school students at Drexel), but it was the first time I was working with students during a time period where they did not really know what to expect for high school and life beyond. My interactions were both informative and playful, and they showed me how students in the present era are extremely intelligent and hyper-aware of the circumstances that are going on in the world. Though they gave this impression, they also showed me that they still are children first and foremost, and though they understood such complex topics such as sociocultural intersectionality and political activism, they knew that they could only do so much as students and that they had big aspirations in order to change the world for the better. It was an idea that was written between the lines of my interactions with them. It was quite eye-opening hearing them understand the complexity of the world at such a young age, but if anything, this experience has shown me that students know so much more than we knew at their age and that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to a student that knows what they want and is prepared to attain that when they are older. My interactions with the staff were just as fruitful as my interactions with the students. Everyone was very welcoming, warm, supportive, joyful, understanding, and optimistic, and the list keeps going on. They showed how powerful and efficient a team can be when communication and empathy are outwardly expressed between other individuals on the team. They also helped me realize how important it is to ask for support when you realize your own limitations. There were plenty of times during the beginning of the program when I was not sure how to go about a situation with a student, but I was always able to rely and lean on my fellow staff members to assist me in de-escalating a situation while also learning how to de-escalate in a situation where I would not be able to get explicit support. Overall, working with everyone at Heights was pleasant and enjoyable, and I really hope I will be able to see everyone again in a future program or experience where we can help nurture and enrich the lives of adolescents.”

 

HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Summer Fun at HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy 

Student Interns: 

Adeayo Adenusi, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Kayla Buchanan, Drexel University College of Medicine

Franklin King, Drexel University College of Medicine

Dylan Maskell, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Academic Preceptor: 

Stacy Ellen, DO, Drexel University College of Medicine

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

Community Preceptors: 

Julie Conway, SLP, HMS School

Teresa Giardina, MSEd, 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 5 to 21 who have cerebral palsy or other complex disabilities. HMS School’s mission focuses on enabling all students to reach their maximum potential in an academic context, but also helping them thrive outside of the HMS setting. 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.

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns were assigned to different classrooms and assisted with the daily activities of the students throughout the school day. The interns were also invited to shadow students’ sessions in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy throughout the summer. During weekly meetings with community preceptors, the interns had the chance to learn about and discuss various aspects of care for individuals with cerebral palsy, such as specialized dental care and feeding challenges.

Intern Reflections:

Adeayo Adenusi: “My summer with HMS has been unlike anything that I have experienced before. Prior to beginning my journey at HMS, I was very nervous and was not quite sure what to expect. As the summer progressed, however, I began to feel much more comfortable and confident interacting with children with cerebral palsy. In addition to this, I was able to uncover new ways of becoming a better advocate for the special-needs population. After going through my experience with Bridging the Gaps, combined with the bonds I have formed while working with the students, I can confidently say that I am going to miss each and every one of them. Reflecting on their personal stories and witnessing how far they have come has motivated me to continue in my pursuits for more accessible healthcare across all disciplines.”

 

Kayla Buchanan: “Spending time at HMS was unlike any experience I’ve had; although I was a bit intimidated at first to enter this space out of fear that I wouldn’t know how to be helpful, it became clear that the most natural thing to do was just connect with the kids. The students at HMS are sweet, hilarious, and full of life, and I am so thankful to have had the chance to get to know them. I also learned a great deal from interacting with the teachers, administrators, nurses, and therapists at HMS and how these disciplines all come together to form the greater HMS community.”

 

Franklin King: “The time I spent at HMS this summer has been an invaluable experience that I hope to carry many lessons from into my future career in medicine. Working with a complete care team demonstrated the necessity of a variety of interventions such as OT, PT, and speech therapy in ensuring children with cerebral palsy have the tools to succeed in life. In my interactions with the kids at HMS I learned so much about the unique communication strategies they each used and came to know them for the beautiful people they are. It was a privilege to learn and grow alongside the people I came into contact with during my internship, and I would recommend this experience to anyone entering into a healthcare field.”

 

Dylan Maskell: “Nothing can prepare you for the transformative experience you will gain from being able to work at HMS. Throughout the summer I had the pleasure of forming meaningful relationships with both the staff and students at the school. This experience reaffirmed the passion I have for working with this population and has prepared me for the interactions I will have with patients. I can’t wait to carry this experience with me throughout my career and life.”

 

 

Legacy Youth Tennis and Education

 

Legacy Youth Tennis Community Camp (click to view poster)

 

Student Interns: 

Neha Divi, Drexel University College of Medicine

Nila Kirupaharan, Drexel University College of Medicine

Marisa Langton, Drexel University College of Medicine

Arjun Ramachandran, Drexel University College of Medicine

Geoffrey Zhang, Drexel University College of Medicine

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

Community Preceptor: 

Joni Helton, Legacy Youth Tennis and Education

Josh Irving, Legacy Youth Tennis and Education

Chris Pender, Legacy Youth Tennis and Education

Community Site: 

Legacy Youth Tennis and Education offers free and low-cost seven-week summer tennis camps at 18 sites throughout Philadelphia. Campers receive tennis skill development, mentorship, and an opportunity to compete in the U.S. Tennis Association essay contest. Legacy’s inclusive and affordable community camps promote the development of high-achieving athletes while simultaneously making fitness education and character development more accessible. Legacy’s Out-of-School-Time Program partners with local Philadelphia schools to provide safe and enriching childcare during the summer and after school.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student interns were assigned to various Community Tennis Camp sites (such as Parkside, Allen’s Lane, and Water Tower Recreation Center) throughout the greater Philadelphia area. At community sites, interns collaborated with site directors, tennis instructors, and junior tennis instructors to help deliver tennis-centered programming including warm-ups, skill development drills, and group games. In addition, interns also spent time at the main Legacy Center, working on social media marketing, camper registration, and other behind-the-scenes administrative/organizational tasks to help the programs run smoothly. 

Intern Statements: 
Neha Divi, Nila Kirupaharan, Marisa Langton, Arjun Ramachandran, and Geoffrey Zhang: “One of the most rewarding aspects of interning at Legacy was the opportunity to develop relationships with the campers and coaches. Over the course of the seven-week camp, we got to see the kids open up with us, and ultimately saw them grow as players and people both on and off the court. Through encouraging communication with the campers, we also learned how to guide the kids through processing their emotions and more effectively work through conflicts. Further, we gained experience in leveling our communication with everyone we worked with, regardless of differences in age or experience. Bringing this experience to our careers as physicians, we look forward to continuing to understand others and center our interactions around building lasting relationships with both our patients and our communities.”

 

 

North Light Community Center

 

North Light Volunteers (click to view poster) 

Student Interns: 

Jack Armstrong, Drexel University College of Medicine 

Lauren Carmody, Drexel University College of Medicine 

Tharun Nandakumar, Drexel University College of Medicine 

Kelsey Talarico, Drexel University College of Medicine 

Academic Preceptor:
Tariem Burroughs, PhD, Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health 

Community Preceptors: 

Wayne Ingram, North Light Community Center 

Krista Wieder, MBA, North Light Community Center 

Community Site: 

Located in the heart of Manayunk, North Light Community Center serves the children, families, and residents of the greater Manayunk and Roxborough neighborhoods of Philadelphia. From offering a summer camp program for children to providing a space for distance learning during the pandemic, North Light is an instrumental resource for children in the area. North Light also serves as a food pantry and distributes food, household items, and essentials to those in need in the community.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked alongside staff in the summer day camp at North Light Community Center. They served as role models to children aged 5 to 12 and assisted with various camp activities, working to enhance reading skills, facilitate educational games, promote artistic creativity, encourage physical activity, and foster curiosity about the environment. In addition to supporting camp staff, the interns provided emotional support to the children and helped create a fun and safe environment for all campers.

Intern Statements: 

Jack Armstrong: “Volunteering at North Light taught me more about early childhood education and introduced me to a warm, tightly knit community. I gained a greater appreciation for the invaluable work that educators and childcare professionals do and was witness to significant resilience demonstrated by so many young children. Furthermore, I learned that there is still so much more work and resources that need to be devoted to children’s well-being in Philadelphia. I am very grateful for my experience at North Light, and I will always remember the community’s kind welcome and focus on their children.” 

  

Lauren Carmody: “Volunteering at North Light this summer gave me a deep sense of compassion for the kids I worked with. Alongside teaching and organizing play, I learned about their family lives and how North Light was a space of safety and community for them and their peers. The summer reignited my inner child and natural curiosity as we talked about many topics from first aid to engineering. Additionally, I practiced patience and learned problem-solving in our classroom. I enjoyed contributing to this community and am thankful to the kids and staff for being so welcoming.”

 

Tharun Nandakumar: “I have learned countless valuable lessons from working at North Light Community Center this summer. I gained a new appreciation for teachers working in communities like the diverse one seen in Manayunk, as each child comes from a unique background and situation at home. The various challenges we had to navigate — from the director of the camp quitting the day before it started to losing air conditioning for the entirety of the camp — have taught me how to adapt on the fly and remain resilient. Despite the challenges, seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces made every minute working at North Light incredibly satisfying!”

 

Kelsey Talarico: “North Light Community Center has been a pillar of community strength and connection for generations. I am so grateful for the opportunity to become part of that community for the summer and to observe the love and care the campers and staff have for each other. Through this summer I have learned so much about the work and time devoted to developing North Light into a safe haven for children and adults. North Light is a place where everyone is accepted, and I will take away lessons of hope, resilience, and compassion.”

 

 

Northern Children's Services: The Wellness Program

 

Cultivating Wellness and Resilience Through Therapeutic Interventions in Children with Behavioral Challenges (click to view poster)

Student Intern: 
Amy DeAngelo, Drexel University College of Medicine

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

Community Preceptor: 

Dawn George, MS, PsyD, Northern Children’s Services

Kevin Weber, BA, Northern Children’s Services, the Wellness Program 

Community Site: 

Northern Children’s Services is dedicated to supporting the healthy development of children and simultaneously strengthening families to build even stronger communities. The Wellness Program provides intensive and personalized services that seamlessly integrate therapeutic interventions and academic support, both after school and throughout the summer. The program is primarily designed for students referred due to behavioral challenges, which may manifest in multiple school suspensions, poor academic performance, impulsivity, and difficulty adhering to school structure and authority figures. Northern offers individual therapy and group therapy, social skills development, and tutoring, aiming to address these challenges effectively and promote positive outcomes for the students and their families.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student intern played a crucial role in facilitating recreational and therapeutic activities for the children in the Wellness Program. The intern participated in de-escalation techniques and fostered resiliency-building strategies and coping skills. The intern also actively participated in organizing and supervising various recreational day camp activities, including arts and crafts, music, gardening, sports, games, and more. The intern also offered valuable academic assistance in reading, writing, and math, reinforcing the children’s educational progress and confidence in their abilities.

Intern Statements: 
Amy DeAngelo: “I selected NCS as a site to immerse myself in a community I had not previously worked with and to explore my interest in behavioral and mental health support and services. Through my experiences, I gained a profound understanding of how social and environmental factors significantly influence children’s development and behavior. Collaborating with the therapists exposed me to invaluable coping skills and mindfulness practices that I aim to integrate as valuable resources for my patients. Interacting with the children and attentively listening and participating in their therapy sessions revealed to me the paramount importance of trust and support in creating a safe space for children to express their feelings openly. Additionally, tutoring the children further reinforced the value of meeting individuals where they are, while simultaneously fostering their confidence in their abilities both inside and outside the classroom. I am grateful for my experience at NCS and hope to incorporate all I have learned this summer to provide better care to my patients.”

 

Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse

 

Summer@Smith: 7 Fun-Filled Weeks of Unstructured Free Play & Interactive Learning (click to view poster) 

Student Interns: 
Kevin Okoli, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

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

Community Preceptor: 
Betsy Neiva, PhD, Smith Memorial Playground

Community Site: 
The Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse is an indoor and outdoor play space that provides and promotes the opportunity for unstructured free play for children aged 10 and under. Founded in 1897 in East Fairmount Park, it has been for generations a public space for kids and their families living in Philadelphia.

Project: 

The Bridging the Gaps student intern served as a summer camp counselor for the 4- to 5-year-olds and 6- to 9-year-olds. For the 4- to 5-year-olds, the intern developed interactive lesson plans that exposed the kids to nature and the outdoors. The children were involved in a lot of nature exploration and discovery, while also developing arts and crafts related to the things they learned in the outdoors. For the 6- to 9-year-olds, the intern developed sports activities and games that promoted physical fitness, teamwork, and problem-solving. The children developed team sportsmanship and learned about the basic rules of common sports. Also for the 6- to 9-year-olds, the intern presented a lesson on exercise and nutrition as they relate to cardiovascular health. The intern also served as a life coach for all the age groups, teaching the children how to adequately vent and communicate their feelings and emotions, coaching them on proper manners, and helping them improve their reading and writing skills.

Intern Reflections:
Kevin Okoli: “The BTG CHIP experience at Smith greatly improved my ability to communicate with children and understand children’s behaviors. I learned effective strategies to employ when communicating with 4- to 5-year-olds, and how to instill self- and co-regulation in this age group. I learned how to motivate and teach self-motivation to the 6- to 9-year-olds as they embraced challenging sports. I learned that life as a child can sometimes be emotionally difficult, so I constantly coached the kids on the proper ways of communicating their feelings to their peers and adults. Last, I learned the best ways to engage with kids when trying to educate them on a topic; once I correlated the topic of nutrition to the foods and people the kids encountered in their everyday lives, it was amazing seeing how quickly the students understood my lesson on essential vitamins and their importance.”

 

Southwest CDC Youth Day Camp

 

Immersed in Youth Day Camp at Southwest CDC – Learning Through Play (click to view poster) 

Student Intern: 

Matthew Lam, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Katherine Tseng, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Academic Preceptor: 

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

Community Preceptor:

Shaketia Sills, Program Coordinator, Southwest Community Development Corporation

Lorraine Thomas, Operations Manager, Southwest Community Development Corporation

Community Site: 
Southwest Community Development Corporation is a program established by community members in 1987 to improve the quality of life in the Southwest Philadelphia community through their after-school programs, employment/workforce development, and housing services. This summer, Southwest Community Development Corporation provided a day camp for students in grades K through four at the John M. Patterson School, offering arts and crafts, games, dance, educational programs, and field trips to enrich students’ education throughout the summer.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student interns created fun, interactive, and engaging lesson plans for the Youth Day Camp program, where each week featured a different theme from STEM to arts and music. Topics included engineering, oral health, physical fitness, and arts and crafts. The lesson plans aimed to provide an educationally stimulating environment that embodied teamwork, support, and creativity for all students. Ultimately, the interns’ goal was to create a welcoming, fun, and comfortable environment for kids to simply be kids and have fun in a safe space that would let their individuality, creativity, and strengths shine.

Intern Reflections: 

Matthew Lam: “Participating in the BTG CHIP experience allowed me to immerse myself in the communities we serve as healthcare practitioners at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Being able to work directly with the kids at the John M. Patterson School, creating meaningful, and trusting relationships with them, strengthened my ability to communicate effectively with a team and widened my creativity in terms of thinking outside the box. Working with the kids every day was full of surprises and my favorite part about working at Southwest CDC. The students are so bright, energetic, and full of life, and it motivates me to put my best efforts out there no matter what. It is truly inspiring — a truly rewarding experience being able to see the students have fun, laugh, cheer, and simply be kids. Learning about their lives, their passions, and dreams throughout the summer was heartwarming and motivational. With the unconditional support by Ms. Shaketia Sills, my summer at Southwest CDC with the staff and students was a rewarding experience I’ll cherish throughout my life and career.”

 

Katherine Tseng: “Through BTG, I had the opportunity to establish close connections with community members and engage with the children, allowing me to gain insights in their lifestyle. The kids were so much fun to work with, and I’ve learned to be flexible and adaptable throughout the experience. They were always engaged in the activities we prepared, and I also genuinely enjoyed chatting with them about anything and everything. It was heartening to hear about their dreams and aspirations, and they shared their hopes with such pure and resolute looks. It made me realize that as we grow up, the complexities of the world can sometimes lead us to forget what truly matters to us. One day, while having a conversation with a second-grader, we ended up discussing the supernatural powers we would want. He told me he wants to be able to run at lightning speed so he could run to help the people in need just in time. This is such a simple but heartwarming wish. We had fun planning activities for the kids to learn, but what touched me was the positivity and energy they brought us in return. Their wishes and enthusiasm motivate me even more on this dental journey to help the community and population in need of oral treatment. Working at the Southwest CDC this summer has truly been a worthwhile and fulfilling experience.”

 

St. Christopher's Hospital for Children Center for Children and Youth with Special Healthcare Needs

 

Back-to-School Carnival (click to view poster)

Student Interns: 

Ethan Schollaert, Drexel University College of Medicine

Sarth Shah, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Angela Kim, MS, MD, FAAP, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Community Preceptor: 
Renee Turchi, MD, MPH, FAAP, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Center for Children and Youth with Special Healthcare Needs

Community Site: 
The Center for Children and Youth with Special Healthcare Needs is located within St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. It provides complete, coordinated, family-centered care in a single place.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked on the Center for Children and Youth with Special Healthcare Needs Back-to-School Carnival, held each summer to provide families in the Philadelphia community with health resources and the children with backpacks filled with school supplies to help prepare them for the new academic year. In the past few years, the carnival has been held virtually due to COVID-19, but this year the carnival was held in person. To prepare for the backpack drive and carnival, the BTG interns aided in fundraising, planning, and ordering supplies. The interns’ main project was coordinating the vendors for entertainment, food, and desserts. In addition, the interns dedicated time toward organizing, preparing, and setting up for the event.

Intern Reflections: 

Ethan Schollaert: “I will look back on my time spent at St. Chris this summer with nothing but fond memories. It was such a unique experience to be able to plan and coordinate this event. The community served by St. Chris is a type that I’m passionate about working with throughout my career in medicine, so the opportunity to interact with them outside of the typical hospital environment is something I’ll be forever grateful for. The excitement that you can see on the kids’ faces when they hear about the carnival and backpack drive is priceless. Realizing that, without events like this, those families may not have the capability to send their children to school with the everyday essentials is a difficult pill to swallow. I’ve long believed that early community involvement and engagement can help these kids reach their true height and support families in need. Going forward in my career, I hope to pioneer this type of event in any hospital/organization I work with and be a community leader passionate about supporting those who more than deserve it.”

 

Sarth Shah: “My time at St. Chris was one of the most fulfilling, rewarding, and educational roles I have ever held. Being responsible for organizing a large-scale community event certainly entailed enriching challenges, but seeing the smiles and laughter of the children from low-income families as they received free school supplies, food, and entertainment made it worthwhile. This project helped me realize the struggles faced by members of the community and understand that as a future physician and community leader, I have the power to enact change for the better. I feel privileged and honored to have served in this capacity at St. Chris, and I gained tremendous insight in how I can continue to serve my community throughout my career.”

 

St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, Center for the Urban Child 

Pediatric Navigation – Bridging the Gaps in Pediatric Primary Care & Patient Education (click to view poster) 

Student Interns: 

Lauryn Bender, Drexel University College of Medicine

Serena Chang, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Angela Kim, MS, MD, FAAP, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Community Preceptors: 

Renee Kottenhahn, MD, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Center for the Urban Child

Kathryn Stroup, MD, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Community Site: 

The Center for the Urban Child (CUC) is an expansive outpatient facility on the St. Christopher’s campus. There, a multidisciplinary team cares for a large number of families who face complex challenges due to financial, social, educational, and cultural barriers to care.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked as pediatric navigators in the CUC, where they connected patients and families with resources, assisted with physicians’ workflows, and counseled families on the importance of reading and oral health. The interns implemented and refined existing gun safety screenings for better patient understanding and distributed free gun locks. The interns also researched available physical health resources via online and social media presence, through email, and through site visits. Finally, they developed tip sheets to hand out to families detailing these resources and helped update the Philadelphia CAP4Kids website (an online repository of free and low-cost child-rearing resources available across the greater Philadelphia area) to facilitate easier access to physical health resources.

Intern Reflections: 

Lauryn Bender: “My summer as a pediatric navigator with BTG has been very rewarding. I gained a deeper appreciation for the interprofessional team made available to our patients. It helped open my eyes to how free legal aid and access to social workers or community health workers can legitimately affect patient health. Additionally, I was able to further develop and refine the skills I learned as a pediatric navigator previously, like promoting early literacy, encouraging good oral health practices, screening for gun safety, and connecting families to various socioeconomic resources. Before this summer, a gap was identified in the resources we had available in that physicians would recommend patients be active, but the family would not know how to pursue any physical health options. In finding appropriate physical health resources, I encountered many challenges, including high costs for quality programming, unclear and hard-to-navigate websites, lack of language accessibility for non-English speakers, and geographical gaps in program location making it harder to access. My main takeaway from this investigation is to be cognizant of the challenges my patients continually face so I can effectively provide care.”

 

Serena Chang: “Continuing my role of pediatric navigator for the summer as a BTG intern has fostered continual appreciation and understanding of the work that is done every day by providers, medical assistants, nurses, social work, legal aid, administrators, and the numerous individuals that help provide quality care to patients. My experiences in identifying resources that I can provide to patients in the clinic as well as our side project on researching physical health resources available within the community have been eye-opening regarding the inequities present in what we offer as a society. I have learned to be more cognizant of language barriers, more probing with questions to identify the source of issues or the answers that I need, and more critical about how we, as a hospital system, approach the business of healthcare. By working with so many different individuals both in the clinic and out in the community, I’ve developed better communication skills that will allow me to be the best clinician that I could be to address not only the medical needs but also the social needs of future patients.”

St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, Collaborative Primary Care Clinic (CPCC)

 

CPC Clinic / Interpreter (click to view poster)

Student Intern: 
Lorenzo E. Bosque, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Angela Kim, MS, MD, FAAP, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Community Preceptors: 

Emily Spengler, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Rita Guevara, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Community Site: 

The Center for the Urban Child (CUC) and the Collaborative Primary Care clinic (CPC) serve to address the unmet needs of one of Philadelphia’s most underserved communities. They provide world-class health and preventive services to children in a low-income community and go above and beyond to provide additional resources to help close health gaps. The center has become a hub for families to receive healthcare, preventive services, walk-in sick clinics, wellness services, social services, and other support.

Project: 
At the CUC/CPC clinic, the intern took on a dual role. First, the intern single-handedly developed and implemented a web-based welcome form and screener for patients to enhance communication between patients and physicians. It was designed to increase understanding of patient needs and improve the provision of timely assistance when required. It also created a comprehensive database from which to analyze the needs of the population served. The intern’s second role was to interpret for Spanish-speaking patients, facilitating effective communication with physicians and enabling active participation in their child's healthcare. The experience as an interpreter inspired the intern to create a children's book in Spanish to help Spanish-speaking children better comprehend and prepare for their visits to the doctor's office, ultimately improving their healthcare experience.

Intern Reflections: 

Lorenzo E. Bosque: “During my time with BTG, I experienced a significant shift in my mentality and approach to patient care. While my academic courses and various programs had made me aware of the social determinants of health that profoundly impact our population, I was in the process of integrating this understanding into my decision-making and how I perceived those around me. It was a journey towards completeness, where the awareness was present, but not yet fully ingrained. However, BTG has transformed this awareness into an active and integral part of my thought process. Now, understanding the influence of social determinants of health has become second nature to me. It's no longer a conscious effort to include these factors in my assessments and interactions with patients. Instead, it has become a default setting in my being. I find myself naturally taking into account the broader context of a patient's life, recognizing how social factors intertwine with their health outcomes. As I progress in my career as a health professional, the transformation that occurred during my BTG experience will be an invaluable asset. This enhanced understanding will enable me to provide more comprehensive and compassionate care to my patients. BTG has instilled in me the importance of continuously engaging in self-reflection and ongoing learning.

 

Although it may not have been a core mission of BTG, the opportunity to work with children this summer had an extraordinary impact on me. Working with these young patients not only deepened my appreciation for the importance of addressing social determinants of health but also cemented in me the desire to pursue a career in pediatrics. Witnessing the resilience and vulnerability of children reminded me of the critical role I can play in shaping their health and the future of the communities I serve.

 

In conclusion, my time at BTG has been transformative, propelling me toward a deeper level of patient care and empathy. The lessons learned and the newfound mindset will undoubtedly shape my journey as a physician, guiding me to make a positive impact on the lives of those I encounter in my career.”

 

 

St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, Summer Meals Program and Cap4Kids 

 

Summer Meals Program (click to view poster)

Student Intern: 
Nadim Amin, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Angela Kim, MD, MS, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

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

Community Site: 

St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children has been a leader in pediatric care since 1875. It offers nationally recognized programs and pediatric specialists who provide exceptional care to the greater Philadelphia community. The mission of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children is to provide quality services in a caring, progressive environment. Following that mission, St. Christopher’s partners with Nutritional Development Services (NDS) of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. NDS has served the community’s food needs for over 45 years, partnering with both Catholic and non-Catholic programs to provide millions of meals each year to combat hunger in the community.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student intern focused on two main tasks: distributing meals through the Summer Meals Program and ensuring the quality of the CAP4Kids Philadelphia website. The Summer Meals Program’s goal is to distribute healthy lunches to children and teenagers in order to address the food insecurity that families can face when school lunches are unavailable. Each day 210 fresh meals were provided by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and distributed on the premises of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. CAP4Kids Philadelphia is an online repository of free and low-cost child-rearing resources available across the greater Philadelphia area. The intern’s task was to verify the accuracy of and update the entries on CAP4Kids.org and to generate handouts linked to the website.

Intern Reflections: 
Nadim Amin: “Healthcare is a service best provided through trust, and helping patients in ways beyond what they traditionally associate with medicine is a great way to build that trust. My internship gave me the opportunity to practice speaking with patients and their parents, forming connections in spite of the barriers that might exist, such as language, culture, and age. Learning how to connect with a simple offer of a free meal and a smile is a small but impactful skill for becoming the kind of provider I would like to be. Moreover, working on CAP4Kids not only taught me the clinical value of compiling community resources, but gave me competency in finding resources across Philadelphia. I look forward to actually being able to provide patients with options and opportunities to meet their needs. After all, telling a patient they need to exercise more is not the same as providing a patient with affordable and accessible gym, rec center, and sports league options.”

To Our Children's Future with Health

To Our Children’s Future With Health, Inc., Summer Internship (click to view poster) 

Student Interns: 

Frances Resweber, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Gerardo Salgado-Martinez, Temple University, College of Public Health

Academic Preceptor:
Brian Work, MD, MPH, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Community Preceptor: 
Charmaine Sudler-Milligan, MSW, Director of Services, To Our Children’s Future With Health

Community Site: 
To Our Children’s Future With Health, Inc. (TOCFWH), is a community-based nonprofit that serves the Overbrook and Nicetown-Tioga sections of Philadelphia by providing community health and education services. Its summer program operates from Kenderton Elementary School and provides rising first- through seventh-graders in the School District of Philadelphia with summer camp experiences, including classroom activities and weekly field trips.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked with the team at To Our Children’s Future With Health to provide a summer camp experience to rising first- through seventh-grade children in conjunction with academic enrichment provided by the Philadelphia School District. Each intern was assigned to a Kenderton elementary school classroom to work on social-emotional and project-based learning. The Franklin Institute’s To Be a Physicist program provided STEM exposure. The interns also provided oral health education and supplies to all students.

Intern Reflections: 

Frances Resweber: “The BTG CHIP program has given me direct experience working with Philadelphia youth and helped me better understand the multifaceted process of their childhood development. As a BTG intern, I got the opportunity to work with children from various backgrounds and home lives and am growing to understand the impact those lived experiences have on their behaviors and personalities in the classroom. This will be invaluable to me as I grow towards working with patients and their families in a career in pediatrics.”

 

Gerardo Salgado-Martinez: “My time spent with the BTG CHIP program thus far has provided me with insight and skill development in regard to working with Philadelphia youth. I have come to understand how differences in upbringing and environment influence each child and their abilities to interact with one another. I have been given tools to foster connections with each of the children I work with and their families. I will always look back on my experience at To Our Children’s Future With Health in my future career as a public health practitioner.”


CCIU
HMS School
Legacy Tennis
Northern Children
Southwest CDC
St. Chris CCYSHN
St. Chris Summer Meals
Youth Emergency Services
Frankie's World
Heights Phl
North Light
Smith Playground
St. Chris Urban Child
St. Chris CPCC
TOCFWH
Wyss

Wyss Wellness Center

 

Increasing Health Access Among Immigrant and Refugee Communities (click to view poster)

Student Interns: 

Madison Smith, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Mary Wilkinson, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

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

Community Preceptor: 
Jenna Gosnay, MSW, LSW, Wyss Wellness Center

Community Site: 
The Hansjörg Wyss Wellness Center is a primary care facility located in South Philadelphia. Most of the patients who seek services there are immigrants and refugees. Some do not speak English as a first language and covering the cost of their healthcare is a common barrier. To work toward improving community wellness, Hansjörg Wyss Wellness Center provides clinical and social support services to patients, working closely with SEAMAAC (a community organization) to facilitate community outreach.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student interns assisted patients with limited English proficiency in scheduling appointments with specialists for follow-up. The interns connected patients to healthcare and social services in the city and created a resource guide with links to Philadelphia organizations for future use. They assisted patients in enrolling for state benefits and connected them to legal services through Wyss Wellness Center’s partnership with Community Legal Services. The interns helped schedule transportation to get patients to their appointments, and they accompanied patients to appointments and the pharmacy. The interns also partnered with SEAMAAC to organize two community outreach events: a dental hygiene class at a local camp in South Philadelphia and a nutrition and cooking class for Chinese and Indonesian elders through Vetri Kitchen.

Intern Reflections: 

Madison Smith: “I am so grateful for participating in Bridging the Gaps and getting the opportunity to work with the refugee and immigrant populations that Wyss Wellness Center serves. The most rewarding part of the role was to connect with patients and try to help them navigate the healthcare system in a new country and in a new language, and to understand how challenging it is to communicate through both language and cultural barriers. Being at Wyss has helped me become aware of the ways in which healthcare is inaccessible for many communities and has forced me to think about small steps I can take to address these.”

 

Mary Wilkinson: “Working at Wyss was an incredibly impactful experience, and I am thankful for the seven weeks I spent here. I learned a great deal about barriers to healthcare, specifically barriers that refugee patients experience when navigating our healthcare system, and also learned about services available to help people obtain access to comprehensive care. I was inspired by the team at Wyss and their dedication to all patients, no matter a patient’s ability to pay. It was easy to tell that patients felt comfortable and safe at Wyss and knew that the team would do everything possible to assist them. Working at Wyss has helped me understand barriers to care and think of ways that I can help patients receive equitable healthcare in my future career.”

Youth Emergency Service (YES)


Bridging the Gaps with Philadelphia’s Most Vulnerable Youth (click to view poster)
 

Student Interns: 

Brooklyn Gabriel, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Population Health

Noel Tharakan, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

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

Community Preceptor: 
Tarae Morton, Program Director, Youth Emergency Service

Community Site: 

Youth Emergency Service (YES), located in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, provides temporary housing (two to three weeks) for youth aged 12 to 18 who are housing insecure or facing potentially abusive homes. YES provides the youth with meals, activities, trips, social support, and educational programming.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student interns created weekly interactive workshops for the youth on topics such as cardiovascular health, smoking cessation, and STIs. The youth enjoyed learning about health in a fun way. The interns also organized trips to places such as the Mütter Museum and the Franklin Institute and assisted other staff in presenting fun activities, such as arts and crafts, and in programming on subjects such as financial literacy and life skills.

Intern Reflections: 

Brooklyn Gabriel: “I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the youth and staff at YES. Working in this area of public health has allowed me to see firsthand the need for resources and dedicated individuals to help this population. I was glad to get to know the amazing kids this summer and the hardworking employees that help keep this program running. Prior to BTG, I thought that I would not be good at working with adolescents, but this opportunity has led me to want to pursue working in this area.”

 

Noel Tharakan: “I am honored to have been part of the BTG internship that provided me with invaluable hands-on opportunities to work directly with vulnerable populations, which I would not have encountered in medical school. Working at a homeless shelter has exposed me to the immense hardships and health challenges faced by the homeless community, leaving a lasting impact on me. I believe programs like this can be a catalyst for breaking the cycle of homelessness. This empowerment sets the stage for the youth to construct a brighter future. I believe that when we invest in the youth residing in shelters, we are also investing in the potential of tomorrow’s innovators and changemakers. Homeless individuals often battle a multitude of health problems, encompassing physical, mental, and social dimensions. As a future physician, my aspiration is to address not only their immediate physical ailments, but also to recognize and tackle the underlying factors contributing to their current situation — practicing a holistic care approach.”

Philadelphia 2023 

Children & Youth summaries

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