Revitalizing Education & Advancing Camden's Health

Welcome to Project REACH (Revitalizing Education & Advancing Camden's Health)—an innovative, multifaceted approach to addressing the needs of the youth of Camden City, New Jersey. Project REACH implements youth-initiated community health service projects in Camden using a problem-based learning approach to teach preventative health in Camden middle schools.


In 2012-2013, Project REACH took the next step and expanded to two schools in Camden, Sumner Elementary School and East Camden Middle School. At both schools, students learned about various diseases, like diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, STDs, and obesity among others, and how these diseases affect the body. Students also had a chance to observe and touch human organs like the heart and lungs through our anatomy class. Each school developed and carried out their own community service project this year, with help from Project REACH. At East Camden Middle School, students made packets of plastic utensils and napkins for the soup kitchen at Trinity Church in Camden, NJ. Sumner Middle School students, along with our help, cleared out a small plot of land at their middle school and planted a small garden to help beautify the area. Finally, at the end of the year to celebrate we took children from both schools to the Philadelphia Art Museum for their field trip. Students participated in a scavenger hunt that we created in the museum, and had lots of fun looking at all the different types of art. Students had a lot of fun this year, and learned a lot about the human body. We are excited and looking forward to having another successful year at both schools!


2011-2012 was an exciting year for Project REACH. Our students learned about the human body and its systems through our problem based clinical cases. During our field trip to the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, students linked the knowledge they had gained throughout the year to the diseases displayed there. Students also had the chance to observe and interact with human organs though our anatomy sessions. Our end of the year health fair was a huge success. Over a hundred students, family and faculty attended and the participants showcased their community service projects. The projects ranged from stress management and smoking alternatives to environmental awareness through a skatepark cleanup. We were also proud to welcome back our previous REACH graduates, now in High School. Their participation helped make the year fun and effective. Their own project "Ghost Kids" focused on educating their peers on victims of school violence through a day of silence and activism. Everyone involved in Project REACH is looking forward to next year's activities, where we plan on establishing the REACH curriculum at a new school in Camden.


This year we have had an excellent start! There are many returning Project REACH participants, including some who have graduated to high school.  These students, who participated in REACH during the 2009-2010 school year, are currently in training to learn Problem-Based approach and have become mentors to their younger peers. Working with the same students for consecutive years has great benefits and it really shows in the enthusiam and confidence of the returning ECMS participants.  Also, the success of last year's program has spread throughout the school helping our class size nearly double this year!  Students are progressing through cases until the end of the year.  January will be the start of the community service projects; please check back for updates!

2009-2010 Recap:

The pilot year for Project REACH concluded ceremoniously with a special event to recognize the students' work through out the year.  It was held at UMDNJ-SOM in Stratford, NJ, and was attended by East Camden Middle School students, teachers, and parents, as well as UMDNJ-SOM faculty and staff.  As part of this Closing Ceremony, Project REACH mentors presented on each of the community outreach projects organized by the students from East Camden Middle School (ECMS).  The students put together a Health Day Block Party held at ECMS on April 17, 2010.

More on the Health Fair...The event kicked off with a track race led by Roney and Yaritza, two students interested in promoting smoking awareness. Following the race, the remainder of the REACH students presented their projects at different booths in the fair. This included Smoking Awareness, Abuse Awareness, Alcohol and Substance Abuse Education, Camden Cleanup, Homelessness Awareness, Breast Cancer Awareness, as well as Blood Pressure and Glucose Screenings. The Breast Cancer Awareness table showcased a website ( ) students developed for a peer audience.  Numerous community adults also stopped by the event and were screened for blood glucose levels and pressure.  That day, students also made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that were distributed to the homeless of Camden City after the event.  Raffle tickets were given out for participants of the events for fun prizes including basketballs, footballs, gift cards, jump ropes, and an iPod shuffle! The Camden Cleanup, lead by Tristian and Jamal, focused on beautifying the city and this culminated in numerous hours of community service.  ECMS students spent two days painting and cleaning up needles and trash around Camden, including Alberta Woods Park which is next to the middle school.

17 April 2010: proposed R.E.A.C.H. Health Day

Students have been dilligently organizing their own community outreach projects.  Currently we have seven projects addressing the important issues in the community.  Keep this date on your calendar!

Helping the Homeless: a clothing and food drive/distribution

Diabetes Awareness: diabetic screenings and awareness information

Abuse Awareness: diminishing the stigma around physical abuse

Breast Cancer Awareness

Graffiti Clean-Up: a project to promote pride in a clean Camden

Abortion Awareness

Smoking Prevention and Awareness: including a fun race with prizes for top runners!


18 February 2010: Sixers Game

Thanks to the generosity of the Sixers and the Archdiocese in Camden, ECMS students enjoyed complimentary tickets to a 76ers game against the San Antonio Spurs. The students had a wonderful time relaxing after some hard work towards their Community Outreach Projects.

Sixers Picture


12 October 2009: First Official REACH Session!

REACH has officially started the program in conjunction with East Camden Middle School (ECMS).  The first learning session will include 12 ECMS students, lead by 6 UMDNJ-SOM medical students.  Initial meetings with ECMS were very promising; ECMS students have already expressed interest in exploring specific health issues concerning their community.  The first REACH session will begin on October 15th, 2009.  Check in for more updates as the year goes on.


REACH Partnerships

Project REACH is currently funded by the following grants:

  • Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC): Caring for Community Grant
  • Albert Schweitzer Fellowship
  • Association for Prevention Teaching and Research (APTR): Paul Ambrose Scholars Program

In addition to these funders, we are working with the following organizations:

  • East Camden Middle School (ECMS)
  • Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Rowan University School of Graduate School of Biological Sciences
  • Camden City Healthy Futures



Press Releases

Please feel free to e-mail us with questions/comments. Contact Project REACH