June 2018 … Kayla Sparks said she was nervous the first time she attended a meeting of the Cole Manor Healthy Comet when she was in third grade. But she quickly felt at home with her fellow staffers on the health-focused newspaper.
“I loved interviewing teachers and students about how they liked to stay healthy,” Kayla told about 200 community members attending the recent Healthy NewsWorks book-launch celebration and fundraiser at the Merion Tribute House in Merion Station, Pa.
Now an eighth grader at East Norriton Middle School, where she’s on the staff of the school’s Bulldog Bulletin, Kayla reflected on all she had learned through six years as a student reporter. “It has taught me about constructive criticism, time management, and public speaking,” she said. “I also partnered with others to get the job done.”
The event marked the publication of Leading Healthy Change In Our Communities 2018, the seventh book in a series on leaders who are making the Philadelphia region healthier and safer. The book features profiles of 16 selected leaders, including heart and concussion doctors, sports and transportation experts, a food pantry manager, and a juvenile justice innovator.
A dozen of the leaders were on hand to sign copies of the book, along with several of the student authors who researched and wrote the book. The leaders and student authors also answered questions from community members about the book and the Healthy NewsWorks program.
In his keynote remarks, Dr. Paul A. Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, talked about the important role journalism plays in ensuring accurate health and science information is made available to the public.
He said he is interviewed regularly by members of the press and has also been interviewed a number of times by Healthy NewsWorks student reporters. “There is no difference between how these children interview you and how the (adult) reporters do,” he said. “They ask the same probing questions.”
Choosing to be a reporter, he said, means choosing to be part of “the one institution in this country committed to separating truth from fiction.”
Also during the event, Amy Krulik, who is stepping down as Healthy NewsWorks board president at the end of June, was honored with a service award that was named in her honor to recognize her involvement with the program since its founding in 2003.
The Amy Krulik Service Award was created by the board to honor a volunteer who has helped Healthy NewsWorks pursue its mission of promoting literacy and health and has demonstrated leadership to inspire and encourage others.
“For the last 15 years, I have had a front-row seat to the remarkable work” of Healthy NewsWorks, Amy said. “It has been a true honor and pleasure to work with you to support Healthy NewsWorks and to ensure that the next generation of community leaders will be skilled writers and critical thinkers who will be dedicated to fact-based reporting.”
Healthy NewsWorks Executive Director Marian Uhlman announced that Amy Ginensky, who is of counsel to the Pepper Hamilton law firm in Philadelphia, will succeed Amy Krulik as board president.
Marian said Healthy NewsWorks had worked with more than 1,000 students during 2017-18, including those in its core newspaper program for grades 3-8, a pilot Hearty Kids program for K-2 students focused on heart health, and lessons for other students throughout the schools on topics ranging from nutrition to web research.
“It’s been a fantastic year for our students,” Marian said. “We’re very grateful to the teachers, administrators, community supporters, and most of all the students themselves who are helping to lead healthy change throughout our communities.”