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Benchmarks

The Penn-Sayre Collaboration

student

• Democratic, mutually-beneficial, mutually-respectful partnership between a university and its community.

The Penn Sayre relationship, which has grown and developed over the last eight years, and has made particularly significant strides since January 2003, illustrates in practice the benefits that can accrue from a democratic partnership. To be more concrete, a school-based Community Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Program at Sayre Middle School was formally launched in January of 2003. It functions as the central component of a university-assisted community school designed both to advance student learning and democratic development and to help strengthen families and institutions within the community. A community school is an ideal location for healthcare programs; it is not only where children learn but also where community members gather and participate in a variety of activities. Moreover, the multidisciplinary character of the Sayre Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Center enables it to be integrated into the curriculum and co-curriculum of both the public school and the University, assuring an educational focus as well as sustainability for the Sayre Center.  In fact, the core of the program is to integrate the activities of the Sayre Center with the educational programs and curricula at both Sayre Middle School and Penn. To that end, Penn faculty and students from across the University now work at Sayre through new and existing courses, internships, and research projects. Health promotion and service activities are also integrated into the Sayre students' curriculum. In effect, Sayre students serve as agents of healthcare change in the Sayre neighborhood.

The Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Program at Sayre involves over 350 students from grades 8 through 10. For these students, health promotion activities are integrated with core subject learning in science, social studies, math, language arts, etc. Ultimately, every curriculum unit will have a community education and/or community problem-solving component (usually this will function as the organizing theme of the unit). Given this approach, Sayre students are not passive recipients of health information.  Instead, they are active deliverers of information and coordination and creative providers of service.

A considerable number and variety of Penn academically-based community service courses provide the resources and support that make it possible to operate, sustain, and develop the Sayre Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Center. Literally hundreds of Penn students (professional, graduate and undergraduate) and dozens of faculty members, from a wide range of Penn schools and departments, work at Sayre. Since they are performing community service while engaged in academic research, teaching and learning, they are simultaneously practicing their specialized skills and developing, to some extent at least, their moral and civic consciousness and democratic character. And since they are engaged in a highly integrated common project, they are also learning how to communicate, interact, and collaborate with each other in wholly unprecedented ways that have measurably broadened their academic horizons.

Penn faculty from five schools have jointly submitted with the Sayre community and school administration a proposal to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create a school-based school and community-wide health center at Sayre, which would function not only as a community health center but also as a focus for joint academic and co-curricular projects between Sayre and Penn.

• "One University, One Community." 

The Sayre project has focused on improving the health of the Sayre students, their parents and the wider community. Solutions to the complex global problem of improving  urban health as that problem is manifested in a local community in West Philadelphia requires the engagement of every school at Penn. The Sayre project has engaged over 20 faculty and 400 students from eight schools at Penn, illustrating the theoretical potential of Penn's One University Idea in practice. In short, working to create One Community, in which Penn and its neighbors in West Philadelphia work together to help solve complex, significant, real-world problems may well be among the best ways for Penn to realize its academic promise and become the leading research university in the 21st century.

• Penn as an engaged, democratic, cosmopolitan, civic university that exemplifies how universities can rise to the challenge of creating an optimally democratic and inclusive society.

The Sayre project illustrates how a university can make a difference in its local community in ways that are consonant with and enhance its core missions of educating creative, caring, contributing, democratic citizens and developing the knowledge necessary for an optimally democratic society.

—Ira Harkavy, Associate Vice President & Director of Center for Community Partnerships

— Bernett Johnson, Herman Beerman Professor of Dermatology Professor of Pathology, School of Medicine & Senior Medical Director, HUP

Penn-West Philadelphia Community Celebration Day at the Sayre Middle School:

Saturday, October 9

This project is the kick-off for President Amy Gutmann's inauguration week. The Penn-West Philadelphia Community Partnership Celebration Day will be held at Sayre Middle School on Saturday, October 9. This event is open to all members of the Penn-West Philadelphia community.

There will be two major sets of activities on this day:

1) physical improvements to the school and surrounding community, and 2) a celebration of current and developing Penn-Sayre partnerships.

1) Physical improvements to the school and surrounding community

Penn volunteers (students, staff, faculty and local alumni are all encouraged to participate) will work side-by-side with Sayre students, teachers, and community members on the following projects:

  • Classroom, hallway, locker, and exterior building painting
  • Exterior Mural/Tiling
  • Gardening and Greening
  • Cleaning up and improving a tot lot adjacent to the school grounds
  • Cleaning up and improving a community garden adjacent to the school grounds
  • Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell's office is working with block captains to make improvements to blocks adjacent to Sayre.

2) A celebration of Penn-Sayre partnership activities.

A free, community-wide health fair, that builds upon the current Sayre partnership, where Sayre students will partner with Penn Medical, Nursing, Dental, Social Work and Arts and Sciences students to provide the following:

•  Medical Screenings. Sayre students, working under the supervision of HUP house staff, Medical School faculty and students, and Nursing school faculty and students will measure blood pressure, vision, height, weight, and glucose levels. Pamphlets will be distributed, and referrals will be provided where appropriate, on diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and other health-related issues.

•   Dental Screenings. Penn Dental students will offer free dental screenings, and referrals where appropriate. There will be giveaways, informational sessions on dental hygiene, and the Penn dental van.

•   Nutrition. Sayre students who have worked with Penn's Urban Nutrition Initiative will showcase their knowledge of eating right by making healthy snacks and performing healthy cooking demonstrations.

A celebration of all Penn-Sayre partnership activities, including the Community Arts Partnership and the Community School Beacon program.

The Center for Community Partnerships currently supports university-wide involvement at Sayre through several programs in addition to the above Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Program, including the following:

•   The Community Arts Partnership will feature the recent and upcoming work of curriculum partnerships between local artists, Sayre classes and Penn classes. The goal of the Community Arts Partnership is to demonstrate how community arts can be used to meet community needs while improving education K-16+.

•  The Community School Beacon is a resource to all members of the Sayre community. There are after-school, weekend and summer programs for local elementary, middle and high school students that are academic, cultural and recreational. Additionally, there are evening job training, academic, cultural and recreational programs for parents and adults. The Community School Beacon will celebrate all of its activities, including performances by its step team.

Additional activities will emphasize the celebration aspect of this day, including healthy refreshments, music, drumming, step shows, performances, and games for children.

(See page 5 for information about how to volunteer)

 

 


  Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 5, September 28, 2004

ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS:

Tuesday,
September 28, 2004
Volume 51 Number 5
www.upenn.edu/almanac

 

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