This summer, the Literacy Council of Reading –Berks, Inc. in partnership with Penn State Health St. Joseph and the Northeast and East Central Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center (AHEC), received a $10,000 grant from the Community General Hospital Healthcare Fund of the Berks County Community Foundation to pilot a combined training program to 2017 Reading High School graduates and rising seniors. The combined training program consisted of AHEC’s Community Health Worker Program and the Literacy Council’s Workforce Development Program. Classes were held at the Langan Allied Health Academy located in St. Joe’s Downtown campus.
The Greater Reading Chamber and Reading High School’s “Career Prep Fair” held on April 27, was used as the primary source for recruitment to reach RHS undecided seniors. Fifty-six students expressed an interest in the program and were invited to attend one of several information and orientation sessions held in June.
Approximately twenty-five students attended one of three information and orientation sessions. As a result, twelve students committed to spending their entire summer in the program. Classes were held Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m. beginning on June 19, and ending on August 18, with a very special graduation ceremony.
Along with acquiring workplace Community Health Worker skills, eight students received certifications in CPR/First Aid and AED, Trauma Informed Care, and Youth Mental Health First-Aid. Other topics addressed in the training included: teamwork, networking, stress/self care, job safety, workplace culture, health literacy, dressing for success, financial literacy, critical observation and problem solving.
All of the partners were very agog with the educational and work-related outcomes and plan to offer the program again next summer. Students increased their reading assessment scores and all received job offers by the end of the training program. Additionally, four of the students were selected to participate in TEACH Academy, a two-day job shadowing experience coordinated by AHEC and Reading Health System. Students were able to hear first-hand from health care professionals how math and science are used in their everyday job responsibilities.
We are very thankful to all of our community partners, and especially the Greater Reading Chamber and Economic Corporation who provided the opportunity to connect with the students through the Career Prep Fair. Visit the Council’s YouTube Channel to hear student testimonials!