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Open Access Creating Healthy Schools with Middle School Students as Change Makers

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Objective: 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. Methods: 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. Results: 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. Conclusions: When implemented fully, the WTP is a promising youth-led, adult-supported strategy for implementing evidence-based practices to promote health in schools.

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Keywords: ADOLESCENT HEALTH; IMPLEMENTATION RESEARCH; RURAL HEALTH; SCHOOL HEALTH; SERVICE-LEARNING

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2020

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  • Health Behavior and Policy Review is a rigorously peer-reviewed scholarly bi-monthly publication that seeks manuscripts on health behavior or policy topics that represent original research, including papers that examine the development, advocacy, implementation, or evaluation of policies around specific health issues. The Review especially welcomes papers that tie together health behavior and policy recommendations. Articles are available through subscription or can be ordered individually from the Health Behavior and Policy Review site.
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