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Widener student gives swimming lessons to Chester community members

Community Collaboration

Each year awards are granted to support undergraduate student-led, Chester-focused projects that are developed in collaboration with a Chester community partner to address community needs. 

This year there have been five Schmutz Student Civic Engagement mini-grants given to support a documentary on Chester, a science event at the Widener Partnership Charter School, a nutrition program hosted by Soccer for Success, a swimming program for Chester youth, and a Healthy Girls of Chester initiative.

“There is a need in the city to promote a healthy lifestyle for children and young adults,” Rosetta Carter, director of community health education for the city of Chester and the Let’s Move! Initiative, said.

Carter was delighted to learn of the Healthy Girls of Chester program that Christie Rosenzweig, a senior social work student, presented under the guidance of Dr. Marina Barnett, associate professor of social work. The six-week course designed to educate girls about how to live healthy lives, while empowering them to maintain a healthy lifestyle is something Carter has wanted to do.

“We needed a starting point. Christie’s research will help us prove the need to continue health awareness programs addressing obesity,” she said.

Rosenzweig is excited by the support she has received from the Let’s Move! Initiative and looks forward to providing qualitative data to sustain the program.

Another need that social work students addressed was helping the Chester youth become more competent in their water skills. “Swimming with Pride,” a seven-week swim program led by Gina DeFrancisco, Katie Lacouture, and Sara Leonelli, introduces youth from the Boys and Girls Club in Chester to swimming and water safety.

Leonelli, who was a member of Widener’s swim team, noted he was inspired by the opportunity to empower children in and outside of the pool

“I’ve always been passionate about swimming, but this experience has allowed me to connect with the kids on other levels; it’s more than just a swim lesson, it’s a life lesson,” Leonelli said.

These programs are made possible by Jack Schmutz, a member of the Academic Affairs committee of the Board of Trustees. Prior to joining the board, Schmutz was senior vice president and general counsel for E. I. DuPont Nemours and Company.