On Wednesday morning at 4:30am, I met the SHEP club members (Students for Health Education and Promotion) at UWF and rode with them in a 12 passenger van to Orlando, FL to attend the SOPHE Conference (Society of Public Health Educators). We stayed 3 days and came home late Friday evening (so was gone April 17-19). The conference was a great experience and enhanced my knowledge of Community Health Education and our role in society.
Each day, we had an opening Plenary session and a closing Plenary session, each which consisted of well educated and informative health educators. On Thursday, the opening Plenary was about promoting awareness through story tactics, and even more specifically– positive ones versus negative. For example, this video shows a seat belt commercial that gives more of a negative impact or scare tactic versus the next one which is more positive.
In between the opening and closing plenary speakers, we had the choice of which presentations we would like to sit in on based on the subject and speaker. This was nice because we got to experience a variety of health topics and/or studies done by these professionals and also the given choice to pick a topic based on whether it applies to or interests us. These were called Concurrent Sessions. Here’s a list of the ones I attended:
- Impacting Health through Community Engagement (2 speakers)
- What Policy Makers need to hear from Emergency Preparedness Practitioners about Community Engagement
- Investigation of the role of religious affiliation and religious beliefs on health decision making of religious leaders in appalachian communities. THIS STUDY/SPEAKER WAS MY FAVORITE 🙂 It really inspired me to want to promote wellness among churches. I firmly believe that there is a connection between the mind, body, and spirit. Studies prove that those who experience spiritual health are more likely to be overall “healthy” than those who do not have any religious affiliations or spirituality. I would absolutely love to work with churches and write health programs for their community. It would be like worksite wellness but instead the church’s health/wellness.
- Exploring Perceptions of Health Care Reform (Thursday, 2 speakers) My 2nd favorite, great topic discussions following the presentations!
- Perceptions from leading health educators of how the affordable care act has, and will, stir the health education pot.
- Understanding state level attitudes toward healthcare reform
*One neat thing about this presentation. So, my professor Ms. Malley (see picture below), had just taught us in class about the ACA (Affordable Care Act) through a document that was published on the SOPHE website only days before. And the guy who wrote that document stood up at the end of this presentation during the questions segment to comment on the presentation and announced that he was the author. Here is the website with that document:
Since the ACA is such a lengthy document, this man condensed the material and targeted it to Community Health Educators so that we could take the parts the pertained to us and read them. Another interesting facts is that the word “health educator” only appears once in the entire law. The author of the SOPHE document writes his concerns with this and also discusses the opportunities and challenges for health education specialists. I left this meeting feeling motivated to spread our title as CHES (Community Health Education Specialist) because it is a new profession and in high demand, yet the population doesn’t know what we are capable of.
- Using Technology & Social Media to Influence Health (3 speakers)
- Text messaging and cigarette consumption in college students seeking smoking cessation and assistance: a dual university pilot study
- Look, a Flash Mob! Combining traditional teaching methods with popular culture trends to teach college students and the community about elder abuse. *This one was the best and I thought it was neat because he was a professor from UGA (where I transferred from) and the flash mob was filmed on central campus. Here’s the video promoting elder abuse awareness! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g5BfL48B9o
- Preferred Sources of Breast Cancer Prevention Information: Will Mobile Messages work?
- Reducing Health Disparities (Friday, 3 speakers)
- Transforming child, community, and school health in the U.S.-Mexico border region through participatory approaches: garden projects in schools
- Process data from the latino partnership: A novel approach to capture the community-level impact of latino male lay health advisors through soccer teams
- Transformative learning that works magic on students and the communities they serve
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and all of the advice and motivation I received for my future career. I look forward to taking my CHES exam next week so that I can become a Certified Community Health Education Specialist 🙂 Below are some pictures from the conference!
Daily hours: 9×3=27
Total hours: 334