Student Projects Improving Health of Community

OGDEN, Utah – Students in Michelle Snow’s Health Promotion and Human Performance (HPHP) course are learning first hand about the health issues facing residents of inner-city Ogden.

The Boys and Girls Club of Ogden, Ogden-Weber Community Action Partnership Inc. (OWCAP) Head Start and Youth Impact have invited groups of six, five and three students respectively into their organizations to evaluate the health issues and needs of the agencies’ clients or staff. Each group used surveys, focus groups, interviews and statistical research to gather data from the clients, or staff and faculty in the case of Head Start.

Once the initial assessments were complete, the students developed a budget and began to implement a health promotion program for each agency. The goal is for each student group to implement and evaluate the intervention plans they develop between now and the end of the semester. The groups will report on their findings at the end of the semester at a special symposium (April 24 at 10 a.m.) showcasing community service outcomes.

“Most of our students don’t know what it’s like to live in the inner-city and the health issues that individuals deal with in that environment,” said Snow, an assistant professor who developed the course. “This is an opportunity for our students to perform graduate-level work, while assisting the community and its needs.”

Students in the course said they’ve never been involved in a project like this before.

“I knew the need existed, but it’s different when you interact with people and see that need first hand,” said Chris Bateman, a senior health promotions major, who is working with Youth Impact on oral hygiene issues for its clients—75-150 area youth who attend the after-school program at 2305 Grant Ave., in Ogden.

Senior health promotions student Hillary Bushman’s group is addressing nutrition issues among clients of the Boys and Girls Club of Ogden. Many of the youth qualify for free meals, but still complain of hunger.

“Initially we were trying to determine if they needed more education about nutritional foods that would sustain them, or whether they actually needed more food,” Bushman said. Survey results indicate poor nutritional choices are to blame, and the group is now educating the staff and children about choosing and preparing healthy food options Bushman said.

At OWCAP Head Start, the focus is on developing a health intervention plan to support the more than 150 permanent full-time staff employed by the program.

“If we help the staff find effective ways to deal with stress, it will help them be better providers for the children and their families,” said senior Colleen Fuller, a health promotions major assigned to the Head Start group. Fuller and three of her cohorts spent part of their spring break at the Head Start offices, administering surveys and meeting one-on-one with staff to identify stressors in the workplace and their personal lives.

Mary Ellen Lykins, program manager for OWCAP Head Start, said the staff enjoyed the process.

“The students have been wonderful in terms of working with us,” said Lykins. “Our staff deal with huge workloads and high expectations, so it was a great choice when the students decided to focus on stress reduction tips for our employees.”

While the students have a relatively short time to assess clients’ needs and develop and implement their proposals (approximately 15 weeks), the goal is to create sustainable solutions that the organizations will continue to use, even after the students complete their work. Snow said that Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, a federal program, has partnered with the local Boys and Girls Club to ensure continuation of services after the WSU students leave.

Snow worked with WSU’s Community Involvement Center to find community partners for the course. Representatives from the community agencies have been pleased with the students’ work and intervention programs being developed.

“Our partnership with the students in the service learning project has been extremely beneficial,” said Betty Sawyer with the Ogden Boys and Girls Club. “We hope to use this partnership to build the foundation to provide more educational resources on food, nutrition and health at our facility.”

Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.

Contact:

Michelle Snow, assistant professor health administrative services
801-626-7242 · michellesnow@weber.edu

Chris Bateman, health promotion student
801-668-1776

Hillary Bushman, health promotion student
801-721-2099

Colleen Fuller, health promotion student
801-737-0886

Author:
John Kowalewski, director of Media Relations
(801) 626-7212 • jkowalewski@weber.edu