261026 Toward healthier schools in Suburban Cook County, IL: Policy, systems, and environmental changes as health promotion strategies

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 8:30 AM - 8:45 AM

Yuka Asada, MHSc RD LDN , School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Kelsey Gilmet, RN, MN , School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Wesley Epplin, MPH , School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Vamsi Vasireddy, MD, MPH, DrPH , Rebuilding Basic Health Services, JSI Research and Training Institute, Inc, Monrovia, Liberia
Sarah Redman, MPAff , School of Public Health, Division of Community Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Devangna Kapadia, MS MPH , MidAmerica Center for Public Health Practice, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Michael Fagen, PhD MPH , School of Public Health, Division of Community Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Background and Purpose: School environments are increasingly targeted for nutrition and physical activity improvements due to their potential for widespread impact. The Suburban Cook County (SCC) Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) initiative focuses on policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change to promote healthy eating and active living within participating communities and schools.Significance: School districts nationwide may turn to PSE change as a potential strategy in obesity prevention but face limited evidence of best practices. This research addresses the emerging factors in the many PSE initiatives that allow schools to promote healthy environments. Methodology: Three waves of key-informant interviews (between August 2011 and June 2012) were conducted to provide in-depth, qualitative assessments of PSE changes in school districts. Three school districts, encompassing 27 schools, were purposively sampled out of 12 total participating districts. From each district, two school personnel (school district staff / administrators), two CPPW staff, and two technical assistance providers were interviewed. Results: Schools accomplished varied PSE change goals in a short time frame, including structured recess, safe routes to school plans, and school gardens with curriculum integration. The following themes emerged as important factors for PSE change: committed champions, technical assistance, and strong collaborations with community and school partners. Conclusion: PSE change is a powerful strategy for school districts to create health promoting school environments. This study serves to inform school districts nationwide that look to similar initiatives as a potential tool. Future waves will investigate the sustainability of these changes.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related education
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1)Describe PSE strategies used by school districts as obesity prevention strategies. 2)Discuss challenges faced by school districts during development and implementation of PSE change goals. 3)Explain the unique factors that facilitated the PSE change process for school districts.

Keywords: Obesity, Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked on the CPPW Cook County project for schools and school health and nutrition reform. I am a Registered Dietitian and worked as a Clinical Dietitian in medicine, surgery, and the neonatal intensive care unit. I completed a Masterís, Nutrition Communications. I worked at Northwestern University in health literacy. I am working toward PhD in Maternal Child Health, University of Illinois-Chicago, studying school nutrition policy. I presented locally and nationally on school nutrition.
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.