Help Us Build a Healthy Future

The training, skills, and knowledge offered by Healthy NewsWorks have never been more important for children as they navigate a post‑pandemic world awash in both information and misinformation. Building on a 20‑year record of accomplishments, we plan to double the number of children we reach annually to nearly 3,000 by the 2027–28 school year, a growth rate of 15 percent per year. Your support will help ensure a healthy future for our students and communities.

The Program’s Impact on Students

Dean Millard 

Dean participated in Healthy NewsWorks programming from 2010–2017.

As a second-grade student at Cole Manor Elementary School 13 years ago, I began writing for the Healthy Comet newspaper, part of Healthy NewsWorks. For the next six years, I immersed myself in the world of writing and found a new passion. I developed my interviewing, writing, and communication skills. I was always eager to interview leaders in society who helped positively impact communities. I was very honored to be a published author in the “Leading Healthy Change in Our Communities” books each year and attend book-signing events.

Since my final year in the Healthy NewsWorks program in eighth grade, I have continued to become a stronger writer. During high school and my first few years of college, I was constantly reminded of my advanced writing ability by teachers and professors. This is a testament to the Healthy NewsWorks program, which helped to build my foundational writing skills.

I greatly appreciate the pivotal role the Healthy NewsWorks program has played in my life. I would like to express my gratitude to the Healthy NewsWorks program and the many donors for the integral role they have played in my writing journey!

Dean Millard is a junior at Villanova University where he is majoring in political science and minoring in communications. He is a peer tutor at the Villanova Writing Center and a junior White House Correspondent for AKSM Media. He plans to attend law school and pursue a career in politics, journalism, or broadcasting. He participated in Healthy NewsWorks programming from 2010–2017.

Dominic Rivera

Dominic was on the St. Veronica Healthy Hero staff in 2015–16 and 2018–19.

Healthy NewsWorks has had an incredible impact and has empowered me to excel. My interview and public speaking abilities improved when I joined this program, which helped me gain admission to a top high school and university. I can articulate myself, lead conversations, and draw people in.

Since middle school, I wanted to attend a good high school so I would be accepted into a great college. Holy Ghost Prep was the solution to my goal, but at the time, my grades were not quite where they should have been. However, during my admission interview with the Holy Ghost Prep president, he said, “writing and illustrating in a published book ‘Leading Health Change in our Community 2019,’ was impressive for anyone, especially a 14-year-old boy.” Later, during my senior year, he commented that I was one of the best students he had ever interviewed because I not only provided clear answers but also naturally carried on the conversation. Now, I attend Drexel University as a full-ride Liberty Scholar. Despite my other academic accomplishments, I believe, I would not have been awarded my scholarship if I had not joined this small program at St. Veronica Independence Mission School, which ultimately helped me ace by interview.

Dominic Rivera plans to major in mechanical engineering at Drexel University. Dominic was a member of the St. Veronica Healthy Hero staff as a fifth grader in 2015–16. He was a special assignments reporter and illustrator as an eighth grader in 2018–19.

Kayla Sparks

Kayla was on the Cole Manor Healthy Comet and East Norriton Bulldog Bulletin staffs between 2013–2018.

I transferred to Cole Manor Elementary School in the third grade as a new student, and I found myself having to adjust quite a bit to my new environment. However, I discovered Healthy NewsWorks and it was able to provide a safe space for me that I’ll always be grateful for. It gave me a sense of community from the many connections I was forming with my peers. I continued to be a part of the Healthy NewsWorks throughout elementary school as well as in middle school. The skills I gained are things I use every single day. Interviewing different types of people allowed me to be exposed to people with different backgrounds. I value this when I choose the people I surround myself with today. Also, the newspaper has taught me how to ask questions, allowing me to constantly be inquisitive and curious about the world around me. Overall, I have Healthy NewsWorks to thank for helping me tap into a more outgoing and curious version of myself.

Kayla Sparks is a sophomore at the Savannah College of Art and Design, majoring in interior design with a minor in architecture. She plans to own an interior design business some day. She joined the Healthy Comet staff in 2013.

Sydney Uzdzienski

Sydney was on the Hancock Healthy Times staff in 2007–08.

Healthy NewsWorks sessions at Hancock Elementary School were my favorite part of the day. I was able to practice my writing skills, become exposed to the art of journalism at a young age, and fill a role of leadership. My creative abilities started to form as we brainstormed ideas to be included in the paper, and was able to learn techniques on how to advertise. Although I did not choose a career path in journalism, the memories have stuck with me and make me smile when reminiscing. I was able to escape out of my comfort zone, especially while conducting interviews, and overall was taught how to interact with others professionally. I am extremely grateful for all of the skills that were instilled within me and happily congratulate Healthy NewsWorks on 20 years! Thank you!!

Sydney Uzdzienski is a registered nurse specializing in pediatrics in Philadelphia. She received a bachelor of science in nursing from Gwynedd Mercy University in 2022. Sydney was a member of the Hancock Healthy Times staff as a fourth grader in 2007–08.

Leaders Our Reporters Have Interviewed

Tami D. Benton, M.D.

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Tami D. Benton, M.D., is psychiatrist-in-chief, executive director, and chair of the department of child and adolescent psychiatry and behavioral sciences, clinical director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Malcolm Jenkins

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Malcolm Jenkins is an NFL safety who has played for both the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s won two Super Bowls—one with each team. He is the founder of the Malcolm Jenkins Foundation, which aims to effectuate positive change in the lives of youth, particularly those in underserved communities. It operates in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, and Louisiana.

Kenneth Frazier, J.D.

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Kenneth Frazier, J.D., is the former CEO of Merck. A strong advocate for social justice and economic inclusion, he has been the recipient of such awards as the Anti-Defamation League Courage Against Hate Award, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund National Equal Justice Award, and the National Minority Quality Forum’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He has made numerous contributions to the legal, business, and humanitarian fields.

Paul Offit, M.D.

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Paul Offit, M.D., is director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine. He is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

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.