School & Community News

A father’s perspective on what students gain
December 17, 2014

2012 book cover









December 2014…Barry Wilford was thrilled when his daughter Rebekah’s artwork graced the covers of three books published by Healthy NewsWorks. But even more thrilling was watching how the Healthy NewsWorks program boosted Rebekah’s faith in herself.

“We saw, in very tangible ways, growth in her confidence and ability,” Mr. Wilford said. “The skills the students gained through Healthy NewsWorks will stay with them throughout their academic and professional lives.”

Rebekah Wilford, now a sophomore at Norristown Area High School, has participated in Healthy NewsWorks as a writer and illustrator for five years.

When she was in middle school, Rebekah heard an announcement about the program at her school and was immediately interested because she likes to read and write, said her father.

By that time, Rebekah was already asking a lot of questions about eating wisely, but Healthy NewsWorks “supported what we were trying to communicate to our kids at home about food,” Mr. Wilford said.

In 2012, Rebekah drew her first cover illustration for Leading Healthy Change in Our Communities, a collection of profiles of community health leaders written by Healthy NewsWorks student journalists. Her drawing depicts a community garden near a large city. She also drew the cover illustrations for the 2013 and 2014 editions.

Mr. Wilford believes their family inspired Rebekah’s drawing for the 2014 cover. It features a family of four—Rebekah has a brother, Matthew, 12—sitting down to a healthy meal at a neatly set table.

Rebekah enjoys many activities, including swimming and dancing, and she is considering a career as an actuary, but she also loves art. Her father believes that seeing her drawings published in a book encouraged Rebekah to pursue art as well. When she learned that an advanced high school art class required a note from her eighth grade teacher saying she would be able to do the work, Rebekah did not hesitate to ask. She got the permission and loved the class, Mr. Wilford said.

“Healthy NewsWorks was fundamental to her work and her success in ninth grade,” he said. “I was utterly amazed at what the teachers were doing with it.”

By Miriam Hill, Volunteer

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Since 2003, Healthy NewsWorks has been empowering elementary and middle school students to become researchers, writers, and confident communicators who advance health understanding and literacy through their factual publications and digital media.