Guest contributions from Community School students: Sianae, Dobbins CTE High School; Royal and Rukhshona, George Washington High School; Elinetzy, Kensington Health Sciences Academy; Tamiah and Maria, South Philadelphia High School.
This year, at four Community Schools (Murrell Dobbins CTE, George Washington High School, Kensington Health Sciences Academy, and South Philadelphia High School), several high school students served as Healthy Communities Interns learning about health and wellness and sharing health tips and best practices with classmates and community members.
The internship opportunity is part of the Community Schools’ Healthy Schools initiative, and is a partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Education, the School District of Philadelphia, Drexel University’s Eat Right Philly program, and Get Healthy Philly. Interns work on projects in their schools and attend regular meetings at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
Here’s a look at what some of this year’s Healthy Communities Interns learned:
Sianae, Dobbins CTE High School
Sianae is a recent Dobbins graduate and completed the Healthy Communities internship program while a senior. Sianae’s goals for after high school include working and earning an associate degree in art from Community College of Philadelphia.
As a Healthy Communities intern,“I learned a lot more about mental and physical health and made personal connections with both,” said Sianae.
“For anyone considering being an intern, I’d suggest that they be ready to learn and have a little fun too.”
Royal and Rukhshona, George Washington High School
Royal and Rukhshona are recent George Washington High School graduates. Like Sianae, they completed their Healthy Communities internships during senior year.
Royal plans on attending Community College of Philadelphia to pursue an associate degree in psychology and said George Washington High School offered many classes and programs that helped build an interest in the field.
“Attending a Community School brings about many opportunities regarding jobs, colleges, and programs,” said Royal.
As for being a Healthy Communities Intern, Royal said: “I enlightened students about the dangers of (and promoted healthier alternatives to) certain foods, and helped make my school a better environment. Also, I learned a lot regarding the different aspects of health along with leadership and organization skills.”
“My proudest moment was when I became a voice and advocate for the students in my school and received praise for it.”
Rukhshona’s future plans include attending Montgomery County Community College. Rukhshona also learned a lot as a Healthy Communities intern.
“Being a Healthy Communities Intern meant a lot to me,” said Rukhshona. “It meant that I was part of the change that was happening.”
Rukhshona enjoyed creating posters to promote breakfast at school, working at the school’s smoothie stand, and making special “GDub” smoothie recipes. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Rukhshona helped open George Washington High School’s new food pantry.
“During this internship, I learned many things I did not know about public health — things about chronic diseases, physical health, mental health, and food deserts. The moments from my internship that I am most proud of include meeting all the amazing people and my peers that I have met. Being [a Healthy Communities Intern] taught me a lot about things that many people aren’t aware of.”
Elinetzy, Kensington Health Sciences Academy
Elinetzy is a recent Kensington Health Sciences Academy graduate. Like Sianae, Royal, and Rukhshona, Elinetzy completed the Healthy Communities internship during senior year.
“I had a lot of fun and cool experiences,” said Elinetzy.
Elinetzy enjoyed interning at Kensington Health Sciences Academy and meeting Healthy Communities interns from across the city’s Community Schools.
“It was mind blowing that we were all from different schools and facing the same problems, and seeing other people’s approaches to the problems was cool,” said Elinetzy. “I learned that something as simple as water consumption – or how food is being placed on a plate to make it more appealing – can change a community.”
At Kensington Health Sciences Academy, Elinetzy’s focus was increasing school lunch participation.
“We saw that there were not a lot of kids eating lunch. We’d gotten a new chef and interviewed students to see if they knew that we had a new chef and about the food our school served.”
Elinetzy will be attending La Salle University and hopes to study political science.
Tamiah and Maria, South Philadelphia High School
Last but not least, Tamiah and Maria from South Philadelphia learned a lot too! Tamiah will be a rising senior in the fall, and Maria just graduated.
After graduation Tamiah hopes to attend college and become a licensed nurse practitioner.
“South Philadelphia High helped me explore my interests by offering CTE classes and internships. My CTE class prepared me for college and the internships I’ve worked on expanded my horizons.”
Maria will be volunteering in the community before attending community college.
Tamiah and Maria said: “We applied to this internship to educate ourselves on public health, as well as our peers at school. On this journey we met a lot of outstanding people such as Ryan Coffman who educated us on tobacco and social justice. We have gained a lot of knowledge and life lessons from this experience. Personally, we are most proud of knowing students like us can make a change in people’s lives for the quality of better health.”
“This experience was remarkable and if we could do it all over again, we would.”
Want to try a healthy recipe our interns helped share? Here’s how to create flavored water:
- ½ cucumber
- 1 lime or lemon
- Mint leaves
- Wash all produce
- Remove lime/lemon rinds, and slice into thin pieces
- Slice cucumber
- Add all ingredients plus cold water to fill a 2 quart pitcher
- Chill overnight for the most flavor and store in the refrigerator until ready to drink
- Fruit will stay fresh in the water for up to 48 hours
Courtesy of USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, PA Department of Human Services (DHS))
We are excited to see what our Healthy Communities interns will accomplish next. Best of luck Sianae, Royal, Rukhshona, Elinetzy, Tamiah, and Maria!
The Community Schools initiative is a collaboration between the School District of Philadelphia, the City of Philadelphia, and community partners, and is central to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s vision for public education. Philadelphia currently has 17 designated Community Schools, where a Community School Coordinator supports added school-based programs and services for 10,000 students and their families and neighbors.