An Open Access article published in the Health Behavior and Policy Review Journal.
The full article is available as a PDF download.
Elaine S. Belansky, PhD
Kathleen Lohmiller, PhD
Benjamin C. Ingman, PhD
Nick Cutforth, PhD
Sharon Scarbro, MS
Laura Borley, MS
The Working Together Project (WTP) is a classroom-based curriculum in which rural, low-income middle school students completed “Assess. Identify. Make it Happen,” a strategic planning process to improve student health by implementing evidence-based initiatives. The curriculum consisted of 30, 55-minute lessons and 28 “workdays” for students to conduct research, create communication materials, and develop presentations. Study goals were to: (1) assess the extent to which the WTP led to the implementation of evidence-based practices; and (2) describe student-level outcomes that resulted from participating in the WTP.
We conducted a quasi-experimental, convergent mixed-methods study with 4 intervention and 2 control middle schools located in a low-income, rural region. We carried out pre/post student surveys and interviews with teachers, principals, and students.
Two of the 4 intervention schools completed the entire curriculum and implemented evidence-based practices. Students in control schools showed a decline in school connection, academic engagement, and knowledge of health problems, whereas students in the intervention arm showed increases in personal responsibility to solve problems, 21st century skills, school connectedness, and program planning skills.
When implemented fully, the WTP is a promising youth-led, adult-supported strategy for implementing evidence-based practices to promote health in schools.