Pictured above is the Spring 2021 Action Lab cohort. Photo by Morgan Finn, Liberal Arts Action Lab Communications and Program Assistant.

The Liberal Arts Action Lab has formed three research teams for Spring 2021. These project teams focus on a diverse set of questions facing Hartford from helping assess needs for refugee families to increasing access to health and fitness services for people with disabilities. All students meet remotely in the Action Research Methods course on Monday afternoons and also will participate in one of the three Hartford research project teams below:


School Nutrition Project

Grow Hartford Youth Program organizes youth and the community around social injustices such as food injustice, racism, and adultism. In order to better understand the power players in charge of providing food to Hartford Public Schools, our group would like to learn which companies and/or corporations are contracted by Hartford Public Schools to supply school food. Grow Hartford would also like to learn how much these contracts cost and what the nutritional content is of the foods they provide.


Day and time: Tuesday afternoons, 2:00-5:15 pm

Community Partner: Shanelle Morris / Grow Hartford Youth Program 

Faculty Fellow: Dave Tatem, Trinity College



Refugee Needs Project

Many Syrian refugee families resettled here more than a year or two ago, but most families are not fully self-sufficient. They no longer have much official support for resettlement, yet they face barriers with language, employment, education, finances, housing, and many other topics. There are about 20 such families in Hartford & West Hartford, and another 20 in New Britain. Sawa Refugee Resettlement would like to visit these families to find out what their needs and resources are, starting with the Hartford area families. The goal is to find out what the families’ priorities are for the next year or so, in detail, and help them develop a plan to accomplish their goals.


Day and time: Wednesday afternoons, 2:00-5:15 pm

Community Partner: Sarah Kieffer, Anna Shusterman, Carrie Berman, Maha Abdullah, and Janet Stone / SAWA Refugee Resettlement

Faculty Fellow: Linda Cocchiola, Capital Community College



Limitless Fitness Project

Oak Hill is Connecticut’s largest nonprofit provider of services for people with all types of disabilities. Oak Hill is home to Adaptive Sports & Fitness, an innovative community center designed for children and adults of all abilities. The individualized programming supports the health of individuals with disabilities, chronic illnesses, people who have sustained an injury or are recovering from surgery, and individuals who are just aging, regardless of a disability. Oak Hill provides a wide range of amenities including a gym with unique, specialized fitness equipment; personal training; inclusive playgroups for children with disabilities; wheelchair sports; physical education classes; field trips; Veterans sports and fitness programs; chronic illness and disability support groups; caregiver support groups; community space; and group exercise classes. The highly trained staff is well-versed in supporting individuals who are facing any type of challenge. Oak Hill empowers members to achieve results that drastically improve their health, quality of life, and ability to live more independently. Recently, Oak Hill Adaptive Sports & Fitness moved from Bristol to Oak Hill’s main Hartford location where it is now co-located with the durable medical equipment restoration program and smart home services for people with disabilities. This exciting change provides several significant benefits; the convenient location in Hartford is much easier to reach, allowing for increased impact on the community, and combining the programs makes it possible for us to provide a much fuller scope of services for people with disabilities, all at one location. Adaptive Sports & Fitness was a fixture in Bristol for five years, but we have never offered this type of programming in Hartford. The goal is to learn how we can best meet the needs of this community, and make sure services are provided in the most accessible way possible for children and adults with short or long-term disabilities and individuals who are aging.


Day and time: Thursday afternoons, 2:00-5:15 pm

Community Partner: Kelly Boscarino, Christy Bosley, and Paul Weiland / Oak Hil Adaptive Sports & Fitness

Faculty Fellow: Melanie Eaton, Capital Community College


Contact Action Lab Communication and Program Assistant Morgan Finn for questions or to learn how to apply for the next round of Action Lab projects. 

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