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Respiratory Care Students Lead Class to Help the Homeless Quit Smoking


Posted 03/07/2017
Posted by Sophia Olsen


Caitlin Connelly and Hajar Altimimi are handing out materials at their weekly smoking cessation class

Caitlin Connelly and Hajar Altimimi are handing out materials at their weekly smoking cessation class

If you have ever tried to quit smoking, you know just how challenging it can be. Caitlin Connelly ’17 and Hajar Altimimi ’17, two respiratory care majors in the University of Hartford’s College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, are hoping to make the process a bit easier for people staying at the South Park Inn shelter in Hartford, Conn. The students are leading a weekly smoking cessation class at the shelter to teach the homeless new strategies and tools to quit smoking.

Watch the video to learn how Caitlin and Hajar’s class make a difference.

“The responses we have received from the people in the class have been amazing. It really warms my heart,” says Hajar, a native of Riffa, Bahrain. 

Hajar came up with the idea when she dropped off a few blankets at the South Park Inn around Thanksgiving. She noticed that many people were smoking outside and wanted to help them. After talking to the manager of the shelter, Hajar and Caitlin started designing the class with help from Clinical Assistant Professor of Respiratory Care Karen Griffiths. A Dorothy Goodwin Scholarship from the University’s Women’s Advancement Initiative, given to innovative research projects, helped fund their work. 

“This has been so rewarding because we get to help a population that often goes unnoticed and doesn’t get the support and help others do,” says Caitlin, a native of South Windsor, Conn.

Not only do the students get to help people in their community, they also get professional experience. 

“This has helped me grow as a person. I have become more comfortable teaching and interacting with different people,” says Caitlin. She and Hajar both plan to pursue careers in health education after they graduate.

Caitlin Connelly and Hajar Altimimi are handing out materials at their weekly smoking cessation class

Caitlin Connelly and Hajar Altimimi are handing out materials at their weekly smoking cessation class