As part of the summer planning process, the HealthWatchers at School staff spent part of June with a team of staff and partners at Health Is Academic, IV: North Carolina Healthy Living Institute at Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory.
The annual conference is sponsored by the N. C. Departments of Public Instruction and Health and Human Services, and the N. C. Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. During the four-day conference, the HealthWatchers at School team presented a breakout session on the highlights of its first year's successes.
"Building on the successes of our inaugural year with this program we anticipating a great second year," said Joy Grady, HealthWatch Executive Director. "The public will see some things repeated this year based on their success last year. We also have new, encouraging ideas on our agenda."
One definite program rerun will be the fall physical activity campaign. During WALK 2002 last fall, Bladen County school students walked and recorded over 31,000 miles during the eight-week campaign. HealthWatchers at School will introduce WALK 2002 this fall and looks forward to seeing an even greater participation level.
"Watch our for some 'wild' ideas as we introduce WALK 2002," said Grady. "This year's theme will be 'Walk on the Wild Side' and will include a special event to kick off the campaign."
In addition to the Physical Activity campaign, out activities planned are to address Nutrition and Tobacco Use. Overall programming offerings will be based on the evaluations and feedback from participants in last year's programs and activities.
One of the highlights of this year's program implementation is the addition of Peer Encouragers. The HealthWatchers at School Peer Encouragers have been busy over the summer break learning their roles and becoming prepared for the coming year's HealthWatchers at School activities. The group of rising high school juniors and seniors from East Bladen and West Bladen High Schools have participated in two intense training sessions while on summer break.
The Peer Encouragers have been honing their leadership, communication, and problem solving skills in anticipation of the various tasks they will be asked to assist with this year. Their role in the HealthWatchers at School program will be to model healthy behaviors and habits, such as proper nutrition, being physically active, and being tobacco-free for their peers, and others, in their communities.
The Peer Encouragers will also play a substantial role in the various programs and campaigns undertaken by HealthWatchers at School during the school year.
The Peer Encouragers were chosen by a school-based committee, based on criteria set forth by Bladen HealthWatch which included maintenance of at least a 2.5 grade-point average, a clean discipline record, maturity, leadership skills, and possession of personal healthy behaviors.
Bladen HealthWatch's HealthWatchers at School is one of 16 North Carolina projects funded by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, in association with the Duke University Medical Center Department of Community and Family Medicine.