243018 Wellness Buddies: Pilot implementation of a school-based peer nutrition & wellness education program in the School District of Philadelphia

Monday, October 31, 2011

Gabriella Mora Rovito, MPH , Department of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Bettyann Creighton , Office of Teaching and Learning, School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Joan Nachmani , EAT.RIGHT.NOW | Nutrition Education Program, School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Andrew Preston , Office of Teaching and Learning, School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Allison Karpyn, PhD , The Food Trust, Philadelphia, PA
Background: Obesity and overweight in youth populations have become overwhelmingly prolific in the US. The prevalence of obesity in youth has tripled in the past thirty years and affects 31.9% of youth. Prevalence is higher in lower-income populations. National and local funding efforts have targeted obesity prevention in youth. Purpose: Modeled after a youth mentoring peer-education program called Healthy Buddies, Wellness Buddies was implemented in seven School District of Philadelphia (SDP) schools (K-8) in an effort to determine best practices for district-wide implementation. The program provides peer educators with the skills required to positively influence nutrition and physical activity habits of children through peer-education and role modeling. Significance: The health consequences of obesity are undeniable. With youth being the most vulnerable, dynamic school-based obesity prevention interventions, like Wellness Buddies, have become viable options to instill knowledge and even long-term behavior change. Methods: Pennsylvania SNAP Ed Tracks educators from the SDP and The Food Trust identified and trained 42 6th-7th grade student Buddies to teach 3 SNAP Ed lessons. Buddies co-taught supervised lessons to 1st and 2nd grade classes in their schools. This program was carried through the PA SNAP Ed program. Findings: Implementation occurred in seven schools during the Spring of 2011. Approximately 42 Buddies were trained, and over 375 1st and 2nd graders received Buddy instruction. Conclusions/Recommendations: Wellness education in schools requires dynamic, engaging and district-wide efforts. Wellness Buddies is an example of such efforts. Future implementation will incorporate sustainability efforts and increased educator and participant creative decision-making.

Learning Areas:
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Develop a district-wide, education-based school wellness promotion program without ancillary or extraneous funding sources. 2. Identify the processes through which school wellness interventions can be framed and tailored in individual schools with specific needs (i.e. hearing impaired). 3. Demonstrate the capacity of student wellness leaders to promote health and influence positive environmental and policy changes (i.e. banning junk food) in their schools.

Keywords: School-Based Programs, Wellness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have experience and expertise in wellness and nutrition programming in school-based settings.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.