November 2011… Healthy eating and exercise were among the health topics students said they learned about through the Healthy NewsWorks program that made a difference to them or someone else, according to an evaluation of the program presented at a recent conference in Philadelphia.
The findings, based on surveys of student reporters during spring 2011, were part of a presentation Healthy NewsWorks was invited to give during the Pennsylvania Public Health Association conference.
Moriah Hall and Mimi Owusu, who coordinated the evaluation last spring, attended the conference and met with conference attendees who stopped by the presentation.
“People were interested in knowing whether we thought the program makes a difference in the children’s lives,” said Moriah, who holds a master’s of public health and served as manager for the evaluation. “We were able to point out our survey results showed that 90 percent of surveyed students felt their writing skills had improved and that many students felt they had learned about the importance of eating healthier and engaging in exercise by participating on the newspaper staff at their school.”
Mimi, a senior studying health and societies at the University of Pennsylvania, said many attendees appreciated the program’s innovative approach to teaching children about nutrition and health while introducing them to various aspects of journalism. “I think they recognized that this program strives to empower children to be advocates for their health and the health of their communities,” she said.
The survey also found that students reported gains in interpersonal skills and improved understanding of the importance of research.
Healthy NewsWorks plans to conduct additional evaluations during the 2011-12 school year to further identify changes in conceptual knowledge specifically addressed through the program.