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Summer Bridge Program at Waterbury Hospital

Hammonasset State ParkTeachersHands on learningTeam BuildingHammonassetClassroomField TripsHealth Nutrition & Snack FoodNutrition Fair funGraduationClassroom work

Math class and exams in the summer? And kids actually want to go?

Yes, they do–when they happen at Waterbury Hospital’s Summer Bridge Program.¬† For 5 full weeks, the hospital, in partnership with Waterbury Public Schools, offers¬†Summer Bridge to inner-city, low/moderate-income students in the Waterbury area. Students participate in a variety of classes, including English Language Arts (ELA), math, vocab, and poetry as everyday academic courses–while practical money skill-building exercises, field trips, and career exploration activities make the program fun! Team building projects give the students an opportunity to work on their teamwork, leadership, and social skills with other students in a fun and challenging way.¬† The program culminates in a graduation, where every student’s hard work is spotlighted.

This highly competitive academic enrichment program incorporates rigorous inter-disciplinary education, educational and exciting field trips, and career exploration. Participants are ages 12-16 from surrounding Middle and High Schools in the Greater Waterbury area.

Each summer, half of the students from the previous summer return to the program.¬†Nicole Thomas, a 14-year-old aspiring Broadway singer, is a¬†fourth-year student who first learned¬†about Summer Bridge when she was in the¬†sixth grade. She says that every year is different and ‚Äúprepares me for the upcoming year of school.”¬† Her favorite memory from the program is job shadowing at the hospital and at Stone Academy.¬† “We learned about phlebotomy on a fake arm, and learned how to draw blood.”

“We learned about phlebotomy on a fake arm and learned how to draw blood.‚ÄĚ

Other field trips that Nicole and her summer classmates were able to go on included Mystic Aquarium, Lyman Orchards, and a day at the beach and nature center at Hammonassett State Park. While at Lyman Orchards, students learned about planting food and¬†harvesting crops–skills they applied in the classroom, where they planted herbs and spices to take home. This field trip in particular was centered on the program’s theme of health and nutrition in our communities.¬† Another trip, to the Harold Leaver Cancer Center and Stone Academy in Waterbury, enabled students to explore healthcare careers in phlebotomy, respiratory, and¬†radiology.

This summer, the two main focus areas that the 22 participating students explored were practical money skills, and health in our communities. Leading up to the Health and Nutrition fair at the end of week 5, students worked on presentations related to health and nutrition in the Greater Waterbury area. Topics included “Food Deserts and Food Swamps”; “What is Health and Nutrition?”; “What is Obesity?”; and “Fast Food Advertisements.”

The Waterbury Hospital Summer Bridge Program is one of several programs that are part of the Youth Pipeline Initiative created between Waterbury Hospital and the Waterbury Public Schools. The goal of this collaboration is to close the achievement gap for minority and economically disadvantaged students in Waterbury so they can compete for college placement and matriculate after high school graduation.

¬†The Summer Bridge Program was funded by the Liberty Bank Foundation, Naugatuck Valley Community College–Gear Up, Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board, The Harold C. Leever Regional Cancer Center, Stone Academy, Waterbury Hospital, Waterbury Public Schools, and the Waterbury Health Department.

Congratulations to the 2016 Waterbury Hospital Summer Bridge Program graduates!