March 2017… Health leader interviews are a cornerstone of the Healthy NewsWorks student journalism program. Earlier this year, six members of the Healthy Bulldog newspaper staff at AMY Northwest Middle School interviewed Bettyann Creighton, executive director of health, safety, and physical education for the School District of Philadelphia.
Mrs. Creighton said she was nervous as she sat across from the eighth grade student reporters. “I wasn’t sure what to expect,” she said later. “I didn’t want to ramble on. I wanted to answer each question with information that was interesting and helpful.”
But she was struck by the student reporters’ poise and professionalism. “They were prepared and articulated their questions well,” she said. “No adult had to direct the process. … The students knew the order of questions and who was asking. They were respectful of each other, and I was impressed by the whole class.”
Mrs. Creighton is one of a dozen Philadelphia-area health leaders being featured this year in Leading Healthy Change In Our Communities 2017, the sixth Healthy NewsWorks book looking at ways people and organizations are making the region healthier and safer.
Mrs. Creighton complimented the blend of writing and research focused on health that is used throughout the Healthy NewsWorks program.
“It is a perfect way to do cross-curricular work,” she said. “We need to do more cross-curricular activities with health as the theme. Health can be involved in literacy, math, science and social studies. We just have to make the effort to do that. Understanding the benefits of good health helps schools and students value the components of wellness, including decisions at school and at home.”
The fact that Healthy NewsWorks student journalists interview a diverse group of health professionals “supports so many standards in literacy and health,” she added. “When a student writes about health, there is more opportunity to retain health knowledge.”
She believes the student interviews and writing can have a positive impact. “It is important for students to research, investigate and find accurate information,” she said. “There can be many misconceptions when it comes to health. I hope that [the students] realized how important it is for schools to include health education in the instructional program. We can’t assume that students get accurate information about health decisions without learning about health in school.”
—By Zubin Hill