Online Program

Evaluation of physical and nutrition education programs at Massachusetts division of youth services residential facilities

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ranjani Paradise, PhD, Institute for Community Health, Cambridge, MA
Blessing Dube, MPH, Institute for Community Health, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, MA
Deborah Del Dotto, Collaborative for Educational Services, Northampton, MA
Kimberlee McCarthy, Collaborative for Educational Services, Northampton, MA
Justeen Hyde, PhD, Institute for Community Health, Cambridge, MA
The Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework provides standards for physical and nutrition education in public schools. However, the curricula taught to students incarcerated at Division of Youth Services (DYS) residential facilities have not historically met these standards. The Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) is contracted by DYS to provide educational services to students in all residential programs. With grant funding, CES implemented Project HOPE (Healthy Opportunities, Positive Effects) to pilot physical and nutrition education programs at DYS programs from 2009-2013. Five certified physical education teachers were hired to teach a curriculum aligned with MA standards and to build DYS staff capacity around physical and nutrition education. Project HOPE outlined five target outcomes for youth in participating programs, including physical activity, personal health goals, self-efficacy, heart health, and fruit/vegetable consumption. Data were collected four times each year, and outcomes were evaluated twice each year. More than 550 students participated in Project HOPE over the first three years of the program. Evaluation results show successful achievement of the physical activity outcome, with the percentage of students meeting the target increasing from 55% at baseline to 87% at the end of year three. Mixed success was observed for the other outcomes, with some sites achieving better results than others. Overall, Project HOPE demonstrates that dedicated physical education staff can measurably increase physical activity among incarcerated youth. Lessons learned include the need for institutional and site-specific leadership supporting an overall culture of health promotion and wellness, and accountability standards to achieve outcomes.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice

Learning Objectives:
Describe a strategy for increasing physical activity among incarcerated youth. Discuss the challenges of achieving target nutrition and health outcomes in the DYS setting. Describe lessons learned that can be used to guide the development of physical and nutrition education programs in other youth residential incarceration facilities.

Keyword(s): Physical Activity, Youth

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the project manager for the evaluation described in this presentation. I coordinate all evaluation activities and compile and present the evaluation data. I am very familiar with the history of the program as well as all ongoing 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.