This presentation is designed to demonstrate the power a health education program has in reducing stigma experienced by children and adolescents. Band-Aides and Blackboards is such a program: web-based, multi-faceted, and robust with narratives of children growing up with serious physical and mental health problems secondary to chronic illness and disability. The goal of the program is two-fold: to highlight the themes drawn from qualitative study of the narratives, and to package them in web pages attractive to children in an attempt to modify their sense of classmates with medical "differences". Themes of stigma and normalcy were developed into several pages that focus on inclusion and teasing. A hospital tour was developed as well, in an effort to empower children returning to the classroom after medical absences. The tour highlights hospitalized children as tour guides, orienting healthy children to the ins and outs of hospital life. As such, it aims to address school re-entry difficulties by changing the nature of the response to these students--from that of pariah to that of expert. The program has been successful in reducing the disparities in "acceptance" of this group of children. Teasing and exclusion are painful sequela of difference, and through wide dissemination of the website, some of the stigma associated with fear and misunderstanding has been obviated. The presentation will conclude with a sampling of notes from the children that suggest the impact of the site to them.
Learning Objectives: Describe the power of narrative discourse in effecting behavioral change. Delineate the process of data gathering involving children over the Internet. Identify themes drawn from children's narratives. Articulate the relevance of this project to the primary prevention of mental illness. Summarize the process of outcome evaluation
Keywords: Adult and Child Mental Health, School Health
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA