Founded in 1983 by a group of women who wanted to create a healthier, safer environment for their children, the Norris Square Community Alliance operates centers in the North Philadelphia neighborhoods of Kensington, Harrowgate, Fairhill, and Fishtown. Temple is one of four partner organizations that help NSCA enhance its Head Start early childhood programs.
Graduate students from the College of Public Health conduct community research and implement family nutrition programs. About 50 students have participated since the start of the partnership.
“It’s a great partnership both ways,” says Yoshiko Yamasaki (pictured), NCSA’s director of health and nutrition programs. “Students have been surprised at how different people’s definitions of ‘healthy’ can be. Some of our children had never eaten a vegetable before coming here.”
At the same time, students bring many skills to a challenging program, taking time to learn about the community’s needs and goals and developing appropriate interventions, such as introducing new foods and cooking techniques to children, parents, and staff.
“I appreciate that the school places such a value on engagement,” Yamasaki says. “It doesn’t matter how well intentioned or informed a program is; if it doesn’t resonate with the community it won’t be as effective. I’m grateful to have this partnership and look forward to developing it in the future.”