Innovative Advocacy Project Encourages Dance as Exercise and Expression

Published on in Community Benefit Report

Residents and patient perform in Dance it Off video as part of their community pediatrics and advocacy program projectThird-year residents Joyce Chang, MD, and Sneha Ramakrishna, MD, tapped into their shared passion for dance to bring an innovative fitness project to children in CHOP’s Healthy Weight Program as part of the Community Pediatrics and Advocacy Program (CPAP).

Chang had trained in ballet, hip-hop and Chinese classical dance, and Ramakrishna trained in classical Indian dance. “We wanted to show our patients that dancing can be a fun fitness activity as well as a way to express themselves,” Chang says.

They used their CPAP rotation, the time when every resident focuses on community pediatrics and advocacy, to create Dance It Off, a video that included a hip-hop routine and a Bhangra dance. They choreographed simple dance steps in repeating sequences and gave step-by-step instructions in the video, making it easy for any child to follow along and — more importantly — get moving.

The final video was distributed to Healthy Weight Clinic patients and will be used during Obesity Prevention Month.

Sampling of other CPAP projects

Protecting newborns from whooping cough

Research has shown that one way to protect newborns from whooping cough (pertussis) is “cocooning” — vaccinating all the baby’s caregivers so they won’t accidently spread pertussis. To see if offering the vaccine to adults in a pediatrician’s office would remove barriers to vaccination, three residents conducted a one-month pilot: They offered the pertussis vaccine to all unimmunized adult caregivers coming to the CHOP Care Network Cobbs Creek primary care office for the baby’s initial newborn visit, with the assistance of a CHOP Cares Community Grant. A total of 62 adults were vaccinated, 76 percent of them men. Surveys of those who had not been previously vaccinated showed that two-thirds weren’t aware of how important their own vaccination was to the health of the infant in their care. The goal is to pilot the program in other CHOP primary care locations in Philadelphia.

Helping refugees in South Philadelphia

A team of residents built on CHOP’s relationship with the Bhutanese refugee population in South Philadelphia to address the group’s nutritional deficiencies and food availability. Residents met with staff in the Refugee Clinic, as well as WIC in South Philadelphia, and attended Bhutanese American Organization–Philadelphia health fairs, where they met families to hear their questions. Residents then created short, focused education modules that can be taught at the health fairs.

Reading to hospitalized children

In addition to organizing book drives that brought in thousands of books for CHOP’s Reach Out and Read program and creating instructional bookmarks, two residents underscored the importance of reading to hospitalized children through a bedtime story TV series. CHOP physicians were videotaped reading their favorite children’s book, and the tapes are shown in patient rooms at night, successfully modeling a nightly bedtime story routine.

Reaching out to Philadelphia public schools

Several projects placed residents in Philadelphia public school classrooms. In cooperation with Need in Deed, a nonprofit that aims to prepare youth for civic responsibility and service, a resident taught about gun safety, bullying and suicide. The session included brainstorming, talking through case scenarios, and making a plan to help students educate their parents and peers.

Greenfield Elementary School sixth graders learned about bullying, proper sleep hygiene, coping with stress, and good nutrition and exercise habits through a curriculum written by a senior resident in conjunction with the school’s faculty. CPAP continued its partnerships with Dancing Classrooms’ program of weekly ballroom dance lessons for fifth-grade students, providing health lessons in three Philadelphia schools, and with the Philadelphia Fire Department, providing pediatric-specific education to paramedics.