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Stephen commented on Speak Up For Health!

7. Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s well-being?
The Speak Up for Health Program does direct us to an important and promising shift for children/young people. It helped me to recognize the impact of social empowerment in advancing their well-being. Educating our students about the value of health as wealth is empowering. Many young people have something to say but do not have the tools to speak in public effectively and with comfort. Sharpening communication abilities helps young people succeed in a world that demands confidence, articulation and the ability to clearly communicate ideas. By building superior speaking skills, students will prepare to excel in school, attain their dream jobs, defend their beliefs and values, and become leaders in their schools and communities.”
There are 5 benefits that focusing on School Public Speaking through programs such as Speak Up for Health:
1. Public speaking is a necessary and indispensable life skill, and most people are called upon to speak in public at some point in their lives.
2. Public speaking improves research and organization abilities- crucial skills for high school and college success.
3. Employers rank public speaking as one of the top skills they look for in employees. Students can get a head start on their dream careers by developing skills that will translate in the workforce.
4. Speech and debate activities involve “active construction of knowledge.” Students have the opportunity to synthesize, analyze, and utilize new information, rather than merely memorizing facts. According to Communication Education, debate can increase critical thinking skills by 44% in one year and high school reading skills by as much as 25% in one year.
5. Speech helps develop social skills, such as confidence, eye contact, poise, and articulation.
It’s no secret that people throughout history have used the power of public speaking to make a difference. Now students will have the opportunity to speak to a captive audience about health and wellness. They will get a chance to influence their peers by learning and speaking up about what is really important in life. More importantly, students can continue to speak up and in small ways effectively make a difference that will impact someone in their families and communities. So its value expands beyond the confines of each event. HCHF has brought this program to local schools with much success.


Stephen commented on Speak Up For Health!

. I would have liked to learn more about a key experience or a story about how you became inspired on working on this project.

Working as a registered nurse for 34 years I have seen the consequences of unhealthy lifestyle choices and the devastation it causes to personal life and families. In many instances families were unaware of the impact of their lifestyles and eating habits on their health and that they were able to make a real difference in their health outcomes.

New Mexicans are the, second highest poverty rate in the nation, the highest rate of drug deaths in the country at 24 per 100,000, Poverty and lack of education make a difference in health outcomes and 17% of the population who do not have a high school education report that their health is poor.

Amazingly, our state has made no gains in 25 years, according to the study published in 2014. (American Public Health Association, 2014), (Institute for Research and Poverty, 2014). Health determinants such as, low high school graduation rates, teen pregnancy, poor nutrition, lack of motivation/self-esteem/life skills, high rates of drug, alcohol, tobacco use, inactivity and obesity. These determinants are defined as a variety of measures that affect health and wellness. The consequence of widespread unhealthiness is a progressive decline in health, low quality of life and lost productivity.
The University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center states that direct education with the public may encourage the public to make long term commitments to health. The Speak Up for Health program provides direct health education and support that creates healthier families, improves school attendance rates and reduces the incidences of preventable diseases.
To better understand the values that sustain your efforts in this project and the depth of your commitment.

Evaluation of Success
My efforts in The Speak Up for Health Program are based on the value that I place on early intervention having a positive difference on health. Addressing my efforts to school age children will have an impact on not only their families but also their future generations.

I measure the success of each event through both student and teacher questionnaires that are completed during and after each event. The student questionnaires allows teachers and parents to evaluate what each child has learned from the event and which aspects most inspired them to practice healthier habits and behaviors. Project Continuation
Healthy Choice Health Fairs will continue to secure funds through foundation grants, local and state funding, corporate and individual donations. An additional revenue source includes the development of a fee-for-services program for corporate wellness health fairs for their employees. We are in the process of developing at least one major fundraising event each year (end of summer, before school starts) with profits supporting Speak Up for Health.

How else is this problem being addressed?
Collaboration with other organizations:  Due to the tremendous support of UNMH, HCHF is continuously provided with referrals. UNMH has had a significant influence helping to establish our existing collaborations with Albuquerque Public Schools (APS), the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board, the American Holistic Nursing Association, Kirkland AFB, New Mexico Department of Health Office of African American Affairs, State of New Mexico’s Healthy Aging Program, Clovis Cultural/Ethnic Affairs Committee, Albuquerque Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the NAACP of New Mexico. HCHF efforts compliment these events these organizations sponsor because no other organization is addressing these health issues at the grass roots and customized level that HCHF provides.

 Are there other organizations working in the same field?

We have not identified other organizations providing the same services HCHF provides. However, we have obtained a number of sponsors who recognize the importance of these events and are very generous with in-kind donations (walking backpacks with pedometer, gift certificates) which are distributed at Speak Up for Health events.
5. How does your project differ from these other approaches?
Project Description: Speak Up for Health is an innovative, interactive health fair conducted at schools within the Albuquerque Public School (APS) district with a focus on middle grade and high school students. The Speak Up for Health program uses a novel approach in our health fairs combining holistic and scientific methods to help students make a commitment to replace unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones by engaging them in a fun and educational program.
Currently there is no Public Health Awareness Campaign for the state of New Mexico. The New Mexico Department of Health has programs that address disease diagnosis and treatment such as their Chronic Disease Management, Screening and Prevention Services.