243422 Integrating Health and Physical Activity into the School Community

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 8:30 AM

Abigail Atkins, MSW , Research and Evaluation Department, Health Resources in Action, Inc., Troy, NY
Lisa S. Wolff, ScD , Research and Evaluation Department, Health Resources in Action, Inc., Boston, MA
Catherine Vowell, MBA , Health Programs, El Paso Independent School District, El Paso, TX
Michael P. Kelly, PhD , Senior Research Officer, Paso del Norte Health Foundation, El Paso, TX
With funding from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, the El Paso Independent School District developed a comprehensive school health program for their 58 elementary and 17 middle schools. This multidisciplinary program aims to teach children about health and wellness throughout the school day during core academic lessons and through messaging within the larger school environment, by implementing an integrated health curriculum, activity zone areas, cafeteria messages, and family-focused activities, among other components.

In 2009-2010, a mixed methods evaluation with a pre/post-test, quasi-experimental design was implemented to evaluate the program at the elementary level. In the fall and spring, on-line surveys were conducted with 2,088 students, faculty, and staff from El Paso and 837 students from control districts on health knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. Student fitness data were evaluated, and focus groups were conducted throughout the year with students, parents, teachers, and administrators. In 2010-2011, evaluation efforts will continue with elementary schools and begin with the new middle school program.

This presentation will discuss the program implementation and evaluation findings such as: in the first year El Paso students were significantly more likely than control students to report that they exercised yesterday, believed most healthy foods taste good, and could correctly identify information on food labels, when controlling for demographic characteristics. The presentation will also discuss the successes and challenges of implementing a new program in a large school district as well as ways to incorporate evaluation strategies to yield valid results while aiming to minimize teacher and student burden.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Identify strategies for integrating physical activity and health into the classroom Identity success and challenges to implementing a comprehensive school health program across a large school district Describe innovative ways to evaluate school health programs

Keywords: School-Based Programs, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the lead evaluator of the project evaluating comprehensive school health program for 58 elementary and 17 middle schools.
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.