Utilizing the School Health Index to Build Collaboration Between a University and an Urban School District

Authors

  • James Butler DrPH, MEd,

    Corresponding author
    1. Assistant Professor, (jbutler9@umd.edu), Department of Behavioral & Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Maryland College Park, 2320 SPH Building 255, College Park, MD 20742-2611.
    2. Associate Director, (jbutler9@umd.edu), University of Maryland Center for Health Equity, School of Public Health, University of Maryland College Park, 2320 SPH Building 255, College Park, MD 20742-2611.
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  • Craig S. Fryer DrPH, MPH,

    1. Assistant Professor, (csfryer@umd.edu), Department of Behavioral & Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Maryland College Park, 2324 SPH Building 255, College Park, MD 20742-2611.
    2. Associate Director, (csfryer@umd.edu), University of Maryland Center for Health Equity, School of Public Health, University of Maryland College Park, 2324 SPH Building 255, College Park, MD 20742-2611.
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  • Ernestine A. Reed MEd,

    1. Executive Director (retired) of Middle Schools Operations, (sjw1207@verizon.net), Board of Public Education, School District of Pittsburgh, 341 South Bellefield Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3552.
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  • Stephen B. Thomas PhD, FAAHB

    1. Professor, (sbt@umd.edu), Department of Health Services Administration, School of Public Health, University of Maryland College Park, 3302E SPH Building 255, College Park, MD 20742-2611.
    2. Director, University of Maryland Center for Health Equity School of Public Health, University of Maryland College Park, 3302E SPH Building 255, College Park, MD 20742-2611.
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  • This work was supported by a grant from the Heinz Endowments and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (Grant PG60MD000207) to Dr. Thomas. Dr. Butler was supported, in part, through his Mentored Career Development Award to Promote Diversity (K01CA134939; PI: Butler). Dr. Fryer was supported, in part, through his Mentored Research Scientist Development Award to Promote Diversity (K01CA148789; PI: Fryer).

James Butler, Assistant Professor, (jbutler9@umd.edu), Department of Behavioral & Community Health, University of Maryland Center for Health Equity School of Public Health, University of Maryland College Park, 2320 SPH Building 255, College Park, MD 20742-2611.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Insufficient attention has been paid to the process of conducting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's School Health Index (SHI) to promote collaboration between universities and urban school districts when developing adolescent health promotion initiatives. This article provides an overview of the real-world contextual challenges and opportunities this type of collaboration can pose.

METHODS: The SHI and selected collaboration principles were used to facilitate partnership and increase stakeholder buy-in, which led to developing and implementing an 8-year health promotion campaign.

RESULTS: The focus on planning brought together key stakeholders to allow for health promotion programming to take place, despite the competing demands on the schools. The SHI allowed for input from stakeholders to develop campaign activities and inform school- and district-wide policy. Universities and school districts desiring to develop and implement school-based, adolescent health promotion programs should (1) identify the hierarchical structure of the school district, (2) establish credibility for the program and the university staff, (3) emphasize the benefits to all partners, (4) maintain a cooperative partnership with teachers and administrators, (5) appreciate the need for planning, and (6) provide as many resources as possible to aid an already overburdened school system.

CONCLUSIONS: Promoting healthy behaviors among students is an important part of the fundamental mission of schools. The significance of collaboration using the SHI, with direct input from students, teachers, administrators, and university partners, is critical in the development of institutional support for implementation of adolescent health promotion initiatives.

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