June 2012… Students, teachers, and administrators from the Norristown Area School District celebrated the end of the 2011-12 school year at a recent event featuring Tanya Thampi-Sen, community nutrition program manager at the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger.
Ms. Thampi-Sen was one of a dozen health leaders profiled in the new book, Leading Healthy Change In Our Communities. The book was written and illustrated by Healthy NewsWorks student journalists, including the two dozen students at the June 6 celebration at Cole Manor Elementary School.
Ms. Thampi-Sen told the audience the book was a special project and she felt honored to be involved with it. She was interviewed not only for the book, but also for articles in the Gotwals Healthy Press and the Hancock Healthy Times, two of the Healthy NewsWorks newspapers in Norristown elementary and middle schools.
“It wasn’t until I saw the program in action that I realized how important it is,” Ms. Thampi-Sen said. “The students really wanted to know what they could do to help people who were hungry. These student journalists are truly leaders and educators by teaching people about healthy living, and I am impressed by the maturity and professionalism that this program gives them a chance to exhibit.”
Marian Uhlman, director of Healthy NewsWorks, told attendees the Norristown program flourishes because of the work and engagement of many individuals throughout the district.
“Teachers are the brain trust, and they make things happen along with the support of their principals,” Ms. Uhlman said. “And this book is a testament to the commitment and passion of those teachers, principals, reporters, and illustrators who participated in this project.”
The Healthy NewsWorks program is “such important work,” said Deborah Chagin, chief academic officer of the Norristown Area School District. “It is so exciting to see all of these budding reporters. Every year is bigger, and every year is better.”
The event concluded with Ms. Uhlman giving reporters and teachers from each school a copy of the book and enlarged versions of the book’s cover and a front page of their school’s newspaper.