Environmental Health Education Programs in the Public School SystemEPA Grant Number: U916089
Title: Environmental Health Education Programs in the Public School System
Investigators: Johnson, Richisa L.
Institution: Meharry Medical College
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: January 1, 2002 through January 1, 2004
Project Amount: $64,502
RFA: Minority Academic Institutions (MAI) Fellowships for Graduate Environmental Study (2002) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Environmental Justice , Fellowship - Environmental
The objectives of this research project are to: (1) investigate the development and implementation of an environmental health education program for youths at the middle or junior high school level; and (2) determine whether student-facilitated materials and activities can be used to educate adolescents about environmental health issues. Throughout the years, there has been increasing emphasis on the need for environmental health education programs. In fact, one of the Healthy People 2010 objectives and goals for environmental health recommends an increase in the proportion of middle, junior high, and senior high schools that provide school health education to prevent health problems in the following areas: unintentional injury; violence; suicide; tobacco use and addiction; alcohol and other drug use; unintended pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and sexually transmitted disease infection; unhealthy dietary patterns; inadequate physical activity; and environmental health.
As planned for this research project, three middle or junior high schools will be selected that, based on statistical data for teen pregnancy, drug use, and violence, would immediately benefit from such research and positive attention. The students and faculty will be educated and trained to fit the research criteria and on the environmental health issues in the Healthy People 2010 objectives. Three groups will be constructed—one will receive teacher or adult-mediated materials and activities, another will receive student-facilitated materials and activities, and a control group will not receive any materials on environmental health issues (i.e., air pollution). All three groups will receive pre- and posttests at each session, which will be indicative of the objectives for each of the environmental health issues (i.e., teen pregnancy). It is hypothesized from prior research models that the student-facilitated group will gain more knowledge of environmental health-related issues than the other groups, as shown by differences in pre- and posttest scores. Also, students and faculty will report satisfaction and appreciation for this type of knowledge. For further analysis, variables such as gender, race, socioeconomic status, environmental issues, and school location, which may impact the differences between pre- and posttest scores, will be compared and analyzed. These data can be used in the assessment of the type of environmental health education program to be implemented by the public school system. The outcomes of this research will be of marked importance because they will have positive implications for the school, the community, and the environment.
Ultimately, this program will promote more environmentally conscious families and communities. These efforts will supply the intent of the environmental health goals and objectives, which are to prevent health problems and promote a more health-conscious environment.