257162 Healthier middle schools: Everyone can help

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 4:45 PM - 4:48 PM

Alicia White, MS, RD , Food and Nutrition Service, Child Nutrition Division, United States Department of Agriculture, Alexandria, VA
Adam Burns, MPP , Porter Novelli Public Services, Washington DC, DC
Liz Fitzgerald , Porter Novelli Public Services, Washington, DC, DC
Chris Edwards , Porter Novelli Public Services, Washington DC, DC
Erica Sandler , Porter Novelli Public Services, Washinton DC, DC
Erika Pijai, MS, RD , United States Department of Agriculture, Alexandria, VA
Ebony James, MS, RD , United State Department of Agriculture, Alexandria, VA
Judy Wilson, MSPH, RD , Food & Nutrition Service, Office of Analysis, Nutrition & Evaluation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Alexandria, VA
The development and implementation of successful local school wellness policies calls for a team approach, involving school staff, parents and students. Healthier Middle Schools: Everyone Can Help consists of communication tools that school wellness champions can use to mobilize the middle school community to improve food and physical activity choices at school. The tools include a short (1.5 to 3 minute) video and handout customized for each audience: principals, school food service managers, teachers, parents and students. Focus group research guided the development of motivational messaging and realistic strategies and additional evaluative focus groups generated feedback on the draft tools. The videos utilize a mix of live action, animation, and original art to engage audiences and enhance recall of the information presented. The tools for adults present the importance of healthy eating patterns and physical activity in relation to academic performance and, for parents, acknowledge middle school as a transitional period for children. The videos and handouts “ask” audiences to implement strategies perceived to be in their “sphere of control” (e.g., fundraisers for parents), while giving specific examples for collaborations with others in the school community. Evaluative focus groups emphasized the need to use colors, illustrations, actors and animation techniques that reflected tweens' maturity and sophistication, while still being fun and engaging. Focus group participants felt that short videos shown at staff trainings, back-to-school nights and parent organization meetings were an ideal way to introduce the topic and encourage additional follow-up based upon the take-home handout or a post-video discussion.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Other professions or practice related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Describe how to use new and innovative communication tools to engage principals, food service managers and parents in efforts to promote healthier food choices and physical activity in middle schools.

Keywords: Nutrition, Communication

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a member of the team that does this work
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.

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