Physician Assistant Club fights illiteracy

By on March 4, 2004

The Quinnipiac University Undergraduate Physician Assistant Club, under the direction of Professor Michelle Geremia, received a $3500 award to help fight illiteracy.

The club was one of seven recipients of the 2003 Innovations in Health Care: The American Academy of Physician Assistants and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals program award.

This award went to new organizations with new projects in mind.

“The application process took about two weeks,” Chelcun said. “We had to get recommendations and a lot of statistics in regards to the population that we are serving with our literacy project. We had to obtain ethnicity, income, and gender percentages for the grant application.”

The main focus of the application was the outcome that the club planned to have with the money, if obtained.

“Our main goal is to help fight illiteracy and using books and reading to children, hope to promote literacy in the homes,” Chelcun said.

This award honors the undergraduate Physician Assistant Club’s relationship with the Alice Peck elementary school in Hamden, where members visit to read to the students in grades one through three in groups.

The Undergraduate Physician Assistant Club has approximately 50 active members. Of these 50 members, on average, at least ten attend the reading sessions at the elementary school.

“It is hard to tell if the program is working with the students we are currently working with because these children are not as underprivileged as some students are in other programs that are similar,” Chelcun said. “Most of the children we are working with currently have exposure to reading in the home but just having the contact with us as mentors is satisfaction enough that are project is working. With us as mentors, the children look forward to and are very excited about reading.”

In the future, the club would like to try to work with more underprivileged children, possibly in areas of New Haven to further the fight to promote literacy for all.

For now, the members are satisfied with what they are doing as their project is still in experimental mode.

There are 87 students in grades one through three that the students read to and for the holidays, the club provided each of these children with a gift to use at home during the holidays, three fiction books and a candy cane.

This incentive was to promote reading at home during the school vacation.

Also adding to their project, this semester the members of the club have taken on five special education students and one ESL, English as a Second Language student, to their groups.

Now that the group has funding available, they have many high hopes in mind.

“We hope that with the money from our grant and by recently becoming a chartered organization here at Quinnipiac University we will be able to increase our library of books to bring to the school and to increase the classroom libraries that are readily available to the children,” Chelcun said. “We also hope that with more money we can provide more books to each child to be used at home.”

The club is considering, to help enhance the effect of their project on the students, a field trip to Barnes and Noble Bookstore with the children and allowing them to pick out a book of their own. They hope for this to happen some time in April.

Since the group is now both a chartered organization and a recipient of this award, they have the finances available to further increase their literacy project and to also broaden their service programs and build on existing projects that were unable to be completed due to their past lack of funding.

“Last semester, we had two personal donations that helped to keep the club alive financially,” Chelcun added. “Now that we have money, we have more options than in the past and are not fighting to survive as an organization.”


About Amy Trapini