This semester, undergraduate students majoring in communication sciences at Sacred Heart University, are dedicating their time to volunteering with Urban Impact. These students are part of a chapter called National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA). Urban Impact provides educational opportunities to youth from the Bridgeport P.T. Barnum public housing complex to help these students obtain academic success.
“It is important to get involved in this program because the reading proficiency rate of the Bridgeport P.T. Barnum apartments is 6.5%, compared to the statewide proficiency rate of 69.7%,” said senior Gianna Garcia, chapter president of NSSLHA. “By participating in this program, NSSLHA members are helping to enhance students’ educational abilities through one-on-one tutoring sessions.”
Tutor requirements include CSD majors who are members of the NSSLHA. However, other undergraduate students can go through the Sacred Heart’s Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning to get involved with Urban Impact.
“Urban Impact makes NSSLHA feel as if we are contributing to the greater good of the Bridgeport community,” said Garcia. “We know how important education is.”
Urban Impact is composed of five weekly programs that are free of charge for all participants.
According to Urban Impact CT, over the last twelve months, Urban Impact has reached 479 different students in over 13,128 hours. As of now, there are 397 active youth who attend the weekly programs.
“For NSSLHA, undergraduate students are participating in weekly after-school tutoring sessions,” said Garcia. “They work with the Bridgeport youth who have poor proficiency in mathematics and reading comprehension skills.”
Each tutoring session allows the youth to have one-on-one time with their mentors for a one hour period.
“I’m hoping to gain more experience working with children in a one-on-one setting,” said senior Kelly Horgan. “I’m going to graduate school to be a speech language pathologist and hope to eventually work in a school setting, so I thought this would be a valuable experience for me.”
As the new semester has begun, volunteers are catching up on what their students have previously worked on in their sessions.
“My student has been working on fractions,” said Horgan. “In her last session, her and her previous tutor were working on factoring using the least common multiple and the greatest common factor. In our session today, I was supposed to give her an assessment on fractions to determine which concepts she needs more help with.”
These sessions are not only about tutoring, but also work to connect youth with members of NSSLHA on a deeper, more personal level.
“NSSLHA’s tutoring with Urban Impact helps the students and youth come together because they are meeting on a weekly basis,” said Garcia. “Therefore, after each session, they get more and more comfortable with each other to the point where they establish a trusting and life-long relationship.”
Each volunteer must build personal and professional relations with their students and not solely “follow the program”.
“Urban Impact makes NSSLHA as a whole feel more connected to the youth of Bridgeport, as we are playing a role in changing the trajectory of their life paths,” said Garcia.