Program reaches out to students in Norristown

By Mallory Terrence
February 7, 2008

Anthony Casazza/Submitted Photo

Cabrini College has always been a school strongly involved in the community and service projects helping those in need, making a community involvement course a requirement for graduation.

Due to the amount of outreach work done by the Cabrini community, last fall Cabrini College was awarded a three-year grant from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health to conduct a program to high school students in Norristown. The funding is going towards Cabrini’s Youth Empowerment Program (YEP).

“We would not have a program without this grant. The funding presented an opportunity to dramatically increase our outreach to youth in Norristown and the engagement of students on campus,” David Chiles, director of the Wolfington Center, said.

The Youth Empowerment Program provides a safe environment for the teens where they can learn and grow as individuals.

The program’s mission is to empower students by assisting them in setting and achieving individual goals in the areas of academics, health and wellness and cultural experiences.

The YEP program focuses on the health and success of about 30 teens from Norristown High School. The program offers after school programming and culture experiences.

In September the group went to see the Broadway play “Wicked,” an exciting journey for the students since most had never seen the movie, “The Wizard Of Oz,” before.

“Norristown is a very diverse high school, so the kids are accustomed and willing to trying new things, especially food,” Andrea Mancuso, program manager of YEP at Cabrini College, said.

The main focus of YEP is to insure that the students have academic success and are prepared for a college curriculum. Workshops are held throughout the week, which integrate the arts, creative writing and critical thinking skills. Tutoring by Cabrini College students is available and a joy for the high school students, according to Mancuso.

Students participate in workshops on nutrition, physical fitness and mental well being. Fitness classes like pilates and capoeira are offered to the students along with tips on how to manage stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Students in YEP will have several chances to come to Cabrini College to visit the campus and get a feel for the college life-style. During those visits, they will have a chance to meet professors and eat in the cafeteria.

“They love coming to Cabrini. They found the students at Cabrini to be really open and helpful,” Mancuso said.

Besides being able to travel to Cabrini College, the students in YEP will get a chance to see some of the greatest historical and cultural experiences available in the Philadelphia area. Museums, theaters, cultural dancing and restaurant visits are among the options available for the students.

This fall the program took a trip to Linvilla Orchards, where their families were able to join and experience the fun the students do on a daily basis with YEP. “Some students had never been on a plain hayride before. They thought it was going to be a haunted hayride. It was a great and relaxing day for everyone,” Mancuso said.

“We certainly intend to continue the program after this grant is completed. We’re already looking at program models and funding sources to keep the YEP going. It has been too successful for our campus, community partners and the youth, to see it fade away,” Chiles said.

Video by Brittany Liberatore

Mallory Terrence

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