School Health Education and Services
Effective Communication for School Health Education and Services
Can you translate these?
If you can’t figure out these acronyms, the translations are at the bottom of this message. I listed these because they focus on my topic of communication, in this case abbreviations used for text messaging, instant messaging or online chatting
When thinking about what to include in my message as chair of the SHES Section of APHA I told myself to wait until after President Bush’s State of the Union Address to give me inspiration for what to write about as it has in the past with his call for increased funding of abstinence-only sexuality education and concern about anabolic androgenic steroid abuse among professional athletics. This year I got no inspiration from the content of the address, but the fact that it was a form of communication did give me an idea for this piece.
In my senior public health education methods class we have been discussing the importance of effective communication, particularly meeting the diverse needs of those with whom we work. Students have worked on issues such as clients who don’t speak English and have low literacy levels. We have explored slang terms, including the abbreviations listed above. Improving communication is essential for being effective professionals, regardless of whether we have been working in the field since time began or are just getting started.
Here are some ways communication is important to SHES and its members:
- Communication between APHA, SHES and members: one function of the SHES leadership is to keep you advised of important issues and events in the field and in APHA related to school health. For example:
- Plan to attend the Annual Meeting next Nov. 3-7 in Washington D.C. Initial planning is for one special session to address “Children’s Health - Is Policy Failing our Kids?” If you have submitted an abstract to present, notification will be made later this spring. It’s a great place to network and hear what’s new in our field-both important forms of communication.
- The long awaited new NHES Document - National Health Education Standards: Achieving Excellence (2006) - should be available by the time you receive this newsletter. It is a magnificent document. As planned the NHES document will be sold through the ACS on-line bookstore at cancer.org/NHES. The page will become active upon release. The document will retail for $29.95 (Printed document), $19.95 (CD-ROM), and $9.95 (downloadable PDF). SHES was actively involved in the development of these standards, most notably by Fred Peterson, who has just finished his term as a Section councilor.
- Let the SHES Council members know how we can serve school health and your needs better. For example, do you have suggestions for special sessions at the Annual Meeting?
- Advocacy about child, adolescent and young adult health issues to policy-makers and legislators
- The American Lung Association has just released its annual scorecard of state actions regarding tobacco control policies. For some reason ALA does not assess states on their tobacco-free schools policies. NASBE's online state school health policy database has this information, including links to the actual text where available. Access this information at http://www.nasbe.org/HealthySchools/States/Topics.asp?Category=C&Topic=5 According to CDC guidelines for tobacco-free policies, only 15 states have good policies. Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have laws or policies that for a variety of reasons fall seriously short of mandating tobacco-free schools. Georgia does not have any statewide policy at all. As you work for smoke-free workplaces and restaurants, please don't overlook the importance of making K-12 school campuses completely tobacco free.
- Be on the lookout for national advocacy by APHA and SHES. You may receive E-mails directly from APHA or from Jim Bogden, the SHES Action Board representative. He has included advocacy information in this newsletter.
- Communication between professionals and to our clients, patients and students.
- Please submit your abstracts to be presented at the Annual Meeting. We can learn from your efforts and best practices to improve school health education and services.
- We would like to publicize items of interest and accomplishments in this newsletter. Please submit them to be included in future issues. We can applaud your success and feel proud of the work of like-minded professionals.
In closing, I would like to communicate my thanks to retiring SHES councilors Fred Peterson and Jossolyn Edwards and welcome new councilors Marti Kubik and Sarah Lee. Thanks also to Carl Hanson for his role as the SHES secretary.
If you are interested in becoming more involved in SHES, please note the call for nominations. It is perfectly fine to nominate/volunteer yourself. Here’s to a great 2007 for school health!
MOS = mom over shoulder; POS = parent(s) over shoulder; CUL= see you later; 420 = Let’s get high (this time of day, after school when parents aren’t at home…); ASLA = age, sex, location, availability; STN = spend the night; KPC = keep parents clueless.
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Political Action for Kid’s Sake
YOUR VOICE MATTERS – NATIONAL ADVOCACY BY APHA AND SHES
APHA actively advocates for science-based, adequately funded public health programs to members of Congress and federal agency staff. An important function of APHA, your professional association, is to inform you of opportunities to let your voice be heard on current issues at the national level. APHA’s advocacy staff members answer to the APHA Action Board, on which SHES is represented. To learn more, visit www.apha.org/advocacy.
In case you had not heard, both houses of the U.S. Congress are now under new managment. APHA and the school health community expect to have much more influence on Capitol Hill than we have had in recent years. More of our concerns are likely to receive a respectful hearing, and Congress is more likely to pass bills and appropriations that we support. This is an exciting time!
APHA makes it easy to contact your representatives in Congress using an online system that allows you compose messages in your own words or to use text suggested by APHA. The effectiveness of APHA’s advocacy staff is directly related to their ability to demonstrate support from people in every state and congressional district. APHA periodically issues Advocacy Action Alerts to notify you about current bills in Congress on which your voice is urgently needed.
Here are some of the issues that Congress is expected to take up this year:
- Reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP): APHA and other organization are advocating that SCHIP be reauthorized with significantly greater funding levels to ensure that states can maintain and expand their children’s health coverage. Actuaries project that as many as 1.5 million children could lose coverage between 2008 and 2012 without additional funding above existing levels. For more information, visit www.aap.org/advocacy/staccess.htm.
- Reauthorization of the Farm Bill: The 2007 Farm Bill is likely to include good new provisions regarding nutrition education and health promotion. Fruits and vegetables will become more prominently supported. Sen. Tom Harkin, chair of the Agriculture Committee, can also be expected to try to turn the upcoming Institute of Medicine report on Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools, due in March, into a nationwide mandate (see www.iom.edu/CMS/3788/30181.aspx).
- Reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act: School health advocates are working to add health education and physical education to the list of ‘core academic subjects’ and treat them in the same manner as reading and mathematics. (Some observers expect reauthorization to be put off until 2009).
- Enactment of new sexuality education legislation: APHA has long supported the proposed Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act (see www.advocatesforyouth.org/real.htm), a measure to invest in comprehensive sexuality education and teen pregnancy prevention initiatives. This has been introduced in the past several Congresses but not yet enacted. Another similar bill is the Prevention First Act (www.iwhc.org/resources/congress/preventionfirst.cfm), which was recently highlighted in the New York Times.
We promise to keep you well informed about these and other issues as they arise.
Finally, consider attending the 2007 Health Education Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C. on March 3-5. The program is designed to: teach advocacy skills to beginners and to seasoned folks alike; orient participants to key health education issues; and assist participants to visit their members of Congress and practice putting advocacy skills to work. For more information visit www.healtheducationadvocate.org/Summit.
SHES Action Board Representative
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Boston Meeting a Success
SHES sponsored a wide a variety of sessions concerning the health of school aged children and improving school health education. The annual jointly sponsored social was a fun event for APHA attendees. But it was not all play in Boston. The SHES leadership met three times to strategies for the future as well as review the past years events. The meeting minutes are linked for members who were not able to attend.
Rachel Peters talks with people at the SHES booth in Boston
Student Abstract Winner Sheryl Magzeman with SHES Chair Terry Wessel
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Never Too Young to Become Involved in SHES
The SHES leadership was impressed to learn that a high school student submitted an abstract and was selected by peer review to present her research in a SHES sponsored poster session. Mala Krishnamoorthy attends the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science in Worcester. Mala’s poster was entitled, Health and Nutrition Knowledge of High School Students. Mala graciously consented to an E-mail interview about her interests in public health and her future goals. Below are Mala’s responses to the interview. She is truly an impressive young woman and no doubt will make all her dreams come true. Way to go, Mala!
1) Please tell me about the research you presented at APHA (research questions, sample, methods, results, and conclusions).
Research questions (Issues and Objectives): In spite of taking health and nutritional classes in high school, a significant number of adolescents and adults in the United States have health-related problems, such as obesity, eating disorder, high cholesterol, and heart problems as shown by many studies. These are becoming global issues as well.
The objectives of this study were to design a broad-based survey covering the areas of weight, fat, vitamins and minerals, food, exercise, and cholesterol; conduct survey-based measurements; perform statistical analyses on the health and nutritional knowledge of high school students in grades nine through 12 in order to identify strengths, weaknesses, and issues; and finally, help to revise health, nutrition, and physical education curriculums in schools and identify areas to emphasize during teaching.
Sample: Seven high schools participated in the survey with a resulting sample size of 253.
Methods: Nutritionists from medical and non-medical schools have examined the designed survey for completeness and correctness. The survey was revised incorporating their recommendations. Several descriptive and inferential statistical analyses were performed on the measured data. Inferential statistical methods such as t-Test, Chi-Square test with contingency table, and F-test with multiple means were employed for hypothesis testing and computation of means with error estimates.
Results and Conclusions: The t-test results indicated a mean overall knowledge of 60.79%+/-1.44%. Students scored the best in the exercise category and most poorly in the cholesterol category. Males and females had equal overall knowledge. Surprisingly, females had mixed knowledge on the impact of eating disorders and obesity on menstruation and the health issues resulting from lack of periods. Weight analysis using the Body Mass Index (BMI) and the Chi-Square test revealed that the view of the students of their weights was independent of their BMI status. At the same time, the analysis also showed that a significant percentage of students had a wrong perception of their weights. In other words, BMI analysis showed a higher percentage of overweight and underweight adolescents when compared to the students’ perception of their own weights (a possible cause for eating disorders and obesity). Furthermore, students who read food labels and ate based on food content had better knowledge on the food category but not on overall knowledge. Another interesting result was that most students did not eat based on food content. The study indicated that there is considerable room for students to improve their knowledge in every category. Schools in the United States should play a major role in bringing about those improvements by revising their existing health, nutrition, and physical education curriculums and by giving greater emphasis to the weaker areas based on the results of this research. Further studies could be conducted with a larger number of geographically distributed schools and students throughout the country resulting in a more random sample.
2) How did you become interested in this topic?
Health and nutrition have always been an important part of my life. My parents always emphasized the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, eating balanced meals, and exercising regularly. Thus, growing up, I learned the value of these essential ideas and followed the advice myself. I also learned about the negative health effects, both short-term and long-term, that can result, such as obesity and diabetes. Therefore, I concluded that, starting at a young age, children and adolescents should be aware of the consequences of their health and nutrition choices. At Mass Academy, my high school, every junior must complete a research project. Because of my interest, I selected health and nutrition. I wanted to pass on the knowledge that I have learned growing up and through the completion of my research onto other adolescents by gauging where their weaknesses lie and what issues need to be addressed more closely.
3) Do you have an interest in health issues and if so how did this interest come about?
I have always had an affinity for the sciences, and as I grew older and entered high school, this interest blossomed. As a result, I have taken part in research and community service in medical environments. Through my volunteer work at the UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester and my research work at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, I developed an avid interest in medicine and decided to pursue it as a career. Thus, since health and medical issues have always fascinated me and continue to do so, I decided to focus my research on adolescent health and nutrition.
4) What did you think of the APHA conference?
I felt that the APHA conference was a very exciting opportunity for people to share the health research that they have completed. It was also an excellent chance for people to learn about this research and educate themselves about the studies that are going on and about some of the health issues facing the global community. The conference was run smoothly and it was nice to see the large breadth of valuable information that was being covered and on display. Overall, it was a great experience for me, and I am very happy that I had the chance to be a part of it.
5) Do you see a career in public health something you may be interested in for the future? Why or why not?
My aspiration is to attend medical school. My experience and contact with medical environments and the importance of health and nutrition in my life were major factors in my decision to become a doctor. However, what attracted me most was the fact that medicine is such an unselfish affair. Every day, you are able to give back to the community in a unique, positive, and unbiased way by providing care for others. You know that you can use your interests in a beneficial way, and in that sense, it is definitely fulfilling.
6) Tell the SHES readership some things about yourself-your year in school, hobbies, school, etc.
I am currently a senior at the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science. My school places a strong emphasis on math and science, research, self learning, and community service. Also, students go to WPI during senior year taking college courses along with WPI students. I have lived in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts for my entire life.
Community service is an important part of my life, for I feel that it is essential to help those who are less fortunate. Thus, every year, I take part in the Walk for Hunger in Boston and volunteer at the Worcester County Food Bank as well. Likewise, during my trip to India this summer, instead of having the stereotypical birthday party with cake and presents, I decided to celebrate my seventeenth birthday by spending the morning at two small orphanages and providing the children with a full South Indian breakfast and school supplies.
In addition, during those lazy hours, I enjoy reading books and escaping into such worlds as those of Big Brother or Harry Potter. However, when I’m not playing magician or the occasional evil villain, I enjoy writing poetry, for it is akin to keeping a diary, in which one’s most precious thoughts and feelings are expressed. Singing is also a fun escape that has matured from singing “great hits” in the shower to being in a formal choir. Finally, I enjoy traveling with my family, especially during the summer months, exercising, watching movies, and relaxing with my friends.
7) Is there anything else you would like to share with the SHES readership?
I feel that it is important for adolescents to be knowledgeable about health and nutrition and the impact that such decisions can have on the body. However, awareness alone is inadequate - it is also essential for them to apply this knowledge to their own lives and make a conscience effort to live a healthy lifestyle. When health and nutritional knowledge and habits are learned at a young age, it is more likely that these habits will be maintained as adults. Hence, it is also important for the school, public, parents, and physicians to help promote this idea as well.
I also think that health and nutrition research is very important and interesting and that students should use the opportunities that they have to conduct their own scholarly work. It is a very rewarding and fascinating experience.
Thank you, Mala, for your participation and interview!
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HRSA Releases New Chartbook on Rural Health
HRSA has recently released The Health and Well-Being of Children in Rural Areas: A Portrait of the Nation 2005, based on the National Survey of Children’s Health. To download the chartbook go to
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Highlight a SHES Member: John Moore PhD, RN, Senior Program Officer, CDC Foundation
A new feature we are starting for the SHES Newsletter is to highlight a SHES member. Our membership is small but mighty. We don’t always get to know the people in our section as well as we would like or even at all depending on if we can attend the annual meeting. So with this is mind, John Moore, longtime SHES member and a leader within APHA, has agreed to an email interview. Thank you, John!
1) When did your first become involved in SHES and why?
I became involved in APHA in 1983 because my mentors in graduate school – Elena Sliepcevich and Elaine Vitello – were vocal advocates for membership in professional associations. I had originally designated a different section for my primary membership in APHA because I really did not know much about this huge organization, but my mentors were very active in the SHES Section, and so I started attending SHES meetings. Elaine asked me to coordinate the Section’s booth in the exhibit hall, and with that invitation into a specific role, I transferred my primary membership to SHES. I have been actively involved in the Section since that time.
2) What various positions have you held in SHES and APHA?
I feel extremely fortunate that I have been able to serve in a variety of positions in SHES and in APHA. I coordinated the SHES exhibit booth for several years. I have also served on Section Council, as the Section chair, and as a Governing Council representative, which is my current position in SHES. I have served APHA at a broader level as a member of the Intersectional Council (ISC) steering committee, including a year as the chairperson of ISC, and as a member of the Education Board.
3) What has been the most rewarding aspect of being involved on APHA/SHES and why?
My experience has been that the more active I have been in APHA and SHES, the more rewarding the experience. For example, I participated in an effort to analyze Section budgets across the Association and as a result successfully advocated for more program planning funds for Sections back during the time when abstract reviews were still handled by snail mail. I was also involved in the initial development of a manual for Section chairpersons. Through that level of involvement, I was able to learn more about APHA than I had understood before. That increased level of understanding has made my participation in the association more rewarding for me.
Networking at APHA annual meetings has been particularly rewarding for me because it led to an invaluable career change. I met Lloyd Kolbe, my future boss at CDC, at a SHES meeting. At that time Lloyd was the chief of the Office of School Health and Special Projects at CDC. He told me about job possibilities at the CDC. I submitted an application and was eventually hired to work in that office, which later became the Division of Adolescent and School Health.
The networking is beneficial for other reasons as well – being able to talk with, and perhaps develop collaborative relationships with, other professionals from around the world who have similar interests. But because the range of topics covered by APHA is so broad, it also provides opportunities to move outside the comfort zone of your usual work and talk with professionals from other disciplines and to learn from them. I think that that is particularly important for school and adolescent health, because the topics we address cover a wide range.
4) What do you think are the most pressing issues facing school health education and school health services in the next five years?
First let me say that it is important for people to know that my responses to these questions reflect my personal viewpoint and not the official stance of the CDC or the CDC Foundation.
Undoubtedly the ongoing struggle and debate between a science-based focus and ideology will continue to sap much needed time and energy away from developing and implementing effective programs. However, while many of us in the health education arena feel that much of our focus is taken up in responding to this debate, I fear that for far too many people in the nation, it is an issue that they spend little or no time considering. They do not understand health education or the importance of school health programs, and they do not recognize the ongoing threats to effective programs or the need to be advocates for such programs. However, the ongoing discussion provides opportunities to state the case for school health programs. I believe that as those discussions continue to take place in an open, honest atmosphere, more and more people are seeing the need for identifying and implementing programs with proven effectiveness.
Effectively reaching young people with health education/health promotion messages is going to be an ever growing challenge. Available communication technology is changing rapidly, and young people are at the forefront of integrating those changes into daily life. We need to think about how that technology can be used as one way to get health-related messages out.
I think that we need to keep working on how to better engage young people as partners in health education/health promotion efforts. In 1995 I was involved in a national youth summit on HIV prevention. Young people from around the country were brought together to talk about HIV prevention and to make recommendations on what should be done. The steering committee planning and running the meeting was made up of adults and some of the young people who would be participating in the meeting. I think that a lot of adults were fearful of giving young people that much involvement in leadership. But the young people were amazing. And the recommendations that came out of the meeting were right on target. The end results were so good that at least one person accused the adults involved of dictating the recommendations. That did not happen. The recommendations came out of a consensus building process that was designed and directed by the young people themselves. The ideas came from them.
5) What are the most pressing challenges SHES faces as a section for the next five years?
One of our most pressing challenges is one that almost every component of the Association faces – how do we engage members in a way that will encourage more active participation? Members are extremely busy, and resources for travel are limited. Some professionals choose to focus their limited resources on involvement in other professional associations. While that is very understandable, it makes the challenge of encouraging active membership even greater. The issue brings up questions that we have addressed over time, but I think we must continue to address – Are our actions relevant to the work of our membership? Do we address the issues that members feel are important?
I think that as a small Section, it is difficult for us to cover the entire range of issues that are relevant to school health. But lately the section has done a great job at being involved in important policy issues that have been brought to the Governing Council successfully. Other sections have sought us out for involvement in those policy issues. And so we are making a difference, even though we are small. We need to continue those successes.
I am really pleased that SHES places a priority on mentoring young professionals through a student award. We have made good progress in engaging young professionals in our section meetings and in leadership. We need to work on increasing that effort.
6) Why should APHA members become involved in SHES?
SHES is a great section. We are small enough that it is fairly easy to become actively engaged, to become a leader, and to have a voice in the Association. We address such cross cutting issues that we can make easy connections to most of the other sections in the association. The abstract review process provides evidence of that – we receive many more abstracts than the number of slots we are allocated at the Annual Meeting. Our scientific sessions are well attended. And we are focused on improving the health and reducing health risk behaviors of young people.
If you know of a SHES member who we could highlight for future editions please contact the SHES newsletter editor, Julie Gast.
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Martha Dewey Bergren, DNS RN, ILCSN, NCSN, FNASN, clinical assistant professor, University of Illinois - Chicago, was accepted for the Omada Board Leadership development program sponsored by Sigma Theta Tau, International Honor Society of Nursing. The program begins in March 2007 and ends in February 2009. She will be assigned a mentor and attend the Omada Institute, held at the organization’s headquarters in Indianapolis, from June 7-10, 2007.
Martha is currently serving a two year terms as SHES Section councilor. Congratulations, Martha!
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