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MGH Institute students volunteer at Charlestown Community Day

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  September 27, 2012 11:38 AM

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SLP students Harvard Mall Park.jpeg

(Photo courtesy MGH Institute of Health Professions)

MGH Institute of Health Professions students Marley Nordmeyer, Valerie Nunez, and Mead Osborn cleaning up Harvard Mall Park during the graduate school’s Charlestown Community Day on September 14.

The following was provided by MGH Institute of Health Professions.

Casey Vong Phrachanh spent his fifth day as a Master of Speech-Language Pathology student at MGH Institute of Health Professions having a leisurely chat with Mary Holt, a resident of Charlestown’s Zelma Lacey House.

He was just one of 300 first-year nursing, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology students who spent the morning of September 14 participating in the graduate school’s first Charlestown Community Day.

“I think it is great to have a school like this in Charlestown, and for the students to come here,” said Holt.

Life-long Charlestown resident Jim Ahern, who also was enjoying the beautiful day on the front porch of the West School Street assisted living facility, agreed.

The students, accompanied by more than a dozen faculty and staff from the Charlestown Navy Yard school, provided health care tips, described smoking cessation strategies, took blood pressure, and distributed health forms to scores of senior citizen at such places as the Kennedy Center Community Room at the Boston Housing Authority and the NewTowne housing development.

Seniors received a health history sheet called the File of Life in which they can list their medical histories to bring to health appointments, while residents at the Lacey House heard about alternative and complementary therapies.

One student group led seniors from the Mishawum housing development on a health walk, while scores of students worked at Doherty, Lowney, and Harvard Mall parks, raking leaves, pulling weeds, and generally sprucing up the grounds.

“We felt that it was important for students to get involved with the residents of Charlestown and to learn more about this great community,” explained Provost and Academic Vice President Alex P. Johnson, PhD, who noted the school is celebrating its 10th year in Charlestown, and 35th year of educating new health care professionals. “We couldn’t have asked for a better day or a better response from everyone involved. Our students had a terrific experience and had a chance to meet many great new neighbors. It was a beautiful day and I hope that we can repeat it again soon.”

Harvard Mall Park was also the location where clusters of small children colored, played, and read with the graduate students who were experiencing their first trip into the neighborhood.

“This has been so much fun,” remarked Doctor of Physical Therapy student Audra Brawley, an Alabama native, as she took pause from interacting with several youngsters. “I love children, so it’s been great to work with the kids and meet people in the community.”

“These students are the nicest people,” said Charlestown resident Jessica Diaz, who had brought her two children, Chloe and Chase, to the park. “My kids are usually pretty shy, but they’ve really enjoyed playing with the students.”

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