Jefferson Introduces Local Teens & Young Adults to Careers in Rehabilitation Sciences

Event attendees (l-r) included Jefferson’s Nicole Dugan and Michelle Swartz, NoMo CEO and Executive Director Rickey Duncan, and Jefferson’s Leigh V. Leonard and Ricker Adkins.

On May 15, Jefferson College of Rehabilitation Sciences faculty and a Jefferson Rehabilitation clinician held an interactive program at New Options, More Opportunities (NoMo) in North Philadelphia to introduce teens and young adults looking to break the cycle of poverty and violence in their communities to careers in rehabilitation sciences.

The program featured demonstrations of body mechanics and deficiencies in movement by athletic training, the use of assistive mobility devices with physical therapy and a “taste” of food consistencies with speech therapy. Community members also spoke with rehabilitation professionals, including Nicole Dugan, PT, DPT, CLT, WCS, Michelle Swartz, PhD, CCC-SLP, Leigh V. Leonard, OTD, MS, OTR/L, and Ricker Adkins, DAT, LAT, ATC. 

Originating within the occupational therapy department, the relationship between the College of Rehabilitation Sciences and NoMo has grown into a more sustainable, college-wide collaboration that has featured the athletic training program teaching CPR and Stop the Bleed, clothing and toy drives and more.

Spearheaded by a volunteer task force from the college’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee, the continuing partnership aligns with the college’s commitment to the development and continuous improvement of an inclusive environment among faculty, students and staff. It also works to recruit a diverse student population who will become the rehabilitation professionals of the future.

“The partnership with the NoMo Foundation is critically important to us,” says Nannette Fromm, associate dean of student affairs in the College of Rehabilitation Sciences and assistant provost of diversity, equity and inclusion. “Through our annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan, the college commits to activities, just like this, aimed at increasing awareness and knowledge of inclusion-related topics, exposing diverse populations to the rehabilitation sciences disciplines and making an impact on our local community.”

NoMo is excited about the path the Jefferson partnership has taken, says Chanice Smith, NoMo’s chief programming officer and behavioral therapist who participated in several experiments and demonstrations with NoMo participants. 

“We’ve benefited from their students and staff immensely, and our environment has improved since our partnership was enacted,” Smith says. “We were thrilled to provide this job panel to our youth, as it exposed them to new and diverse careers and opportunities. Our mission is to broaden our youth’s horizons in a supportive and cultivating environment, and Jefferson helps us to embody that mission. We have high hopes and expectations for our young people, and with Jefferson’s continued help, the range of possibilities for their futures increases even more.”