Healthy NewsWorks had an incredible 2021, and we couldn’t have done it without the support of many community members and organizations — and, of course, the talent and enthusiasm of our student reporters! We wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season and hope you enjoy revisiting some highlights of the past year.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still limiting most kids to virtual classrooms, we reached out in new ways to build health awareness and literacy skills among elementary and middle school students.
In February, we introduced Kind Kids, a new series of lessons for children ages 5 to 8. Teachers expressed enthusiasm for the emphasis on positive behaviors and emotional health.
And in March, we launched By Kids For Kids, a web platform showcasing work both by Healthy NewsWorks reporters and others. The site emphasizes reliable, health-focused news of relevance to children and also offers teacher and parent resources.
The continuing excellence of our student reporters shone through in multiple ways, including bylines for two alumni in The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Tribune.
Working by video and mostly from home, our students practiced interviewing skills and spoke with health and community leaders, essential workers, educators, and others. Their stories, plus student diaries and reflections, went into our program’s tenth book, Leading Healthy Change In Our Communities 2021—Doing the Undoable in a Pandemic.
We celebrated the book’s completion during a virtual event in May, which included interviews with NFL player Malcolm Jenkins, business leader Kenneth Frazier, and epidemiologist Michael Osterholm and a pandemic theme song! The event video is now available for replay.
In June, Healthy NewsWorks was honored to be selected as a winner of the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation’s 2021 Project Innovation Grant Challenge. The grant goes to organizations using innovative approaches to solve everyday problems in communities.
Preparations for the 2021–22 school year began with the distribution of some 500 copies of our book to students, teachers, and schools during the summer.
For six weeks, two interns joined us through Bridging the Gap, an organization that links health-profession students with nonprofit community partners. They developed and ran pilot programs focused on dental professions, sleep health, and self-care.
Educators whose students have participated in the Healthy NewsWorks program gave us high marks. “The content was so relevant,” a school librarian said. “A lot of times, it was information that the kids really didn’t know much about but were interested in learning.”
Our program scope and methodology received a dramatic endorsement in September with the award of a significant three-year grant by Quest for Health Equity, a Quest Diagnostics initiative that seeks to close gaps in underserved communities.
As the school year began, we took as our 2021–22 theme “How We Heal: Moving Ahead in Challenging Times,” encouraging our student reporters to continue exploring the pandemic and ways to deal with it emotionally.
Healthy NewsWorks expanded into New Jersey, initially with two schools in Camden and adding a third in December. Several Pennsylvania schools, including one marking its 16th year, also started or resumed the program and began working on their first newspaper editions of the year.
And in December, Healthy NewsWorks received our second GSK Impact Award from GlaxoSmithKline. We were among 10 Philadelphia-area nonprofit organizations recognized for contributions to building a healthier Philadelphia region.
Thank you for being part of this journey. We’re looking forward to publishing our 11th book in 2022 and to sharing more with you about what student journalists are learning and reporting.
Here’s to a happy, healthy new year!