Community Celebrates book launch

June 2012… Healthy NewsWorks officially launched its first book, “Leading Healthy Change In Our Communities,” at its spring fundraiser and book-signing event on May 31.

Dr. Walter Tsou (left) who was the keynote spealer with Highland Park E.S. Principal John Council, book interviewee Dr. Flaura Winston, and Healthy NewsWorks community advisor Mary Beth Laurer.

Student journalists signed copies of the book at the event and spoke about what the Healthy NewsWorks student media program means to them. More than 100 community members attended and gave the students a standing ovation as the event wound down at the Merion Tribute House in Merion Station, Pa.

The book includes profiles of a dozen leaders in the Philadelphia region who have something important to say about health and about giving back to the community. Five book interviewees attended the event and sat with the young authors at the signing tables. They included Sarah Martinez-Helfman of the Eagles Youth Partnership, Dr. A. Scott McNeal of Delaware Valley Community Health, Tanya Thampi-Sen of the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, Stanford Thompson of Play On, Philly!, and Dr. Flaura Winston of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Dr. Walter Tsou, who teaches health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, told the audience how Healthy NewsWorks, by teaching its students and school communities about being healthy, takes on and fills an important public health role. He even shared that one of the student journalists signed his copy of the book with the message “Stay fit!”

Marian Uhlman, director of Healthy NewsWorks, and Susan Spencer, cofounder of the program and an Upper Darby teacher, led off the event by talking about how the program started and some of the key events in its development.

Attendees also heard first-hand from several teachers and students about why they consider the Healthy NewsWorks program important and ways it had increased their confidence, improved their reading and writing skills, or helped them learn more about being healthy.

Aviva Habib, a teacher at Philadelphia Montessori Charter School, spoke of one of her students a year ago who had struggled with writing his assigned stories. But one day, Marian suggested he try his hand at illustrating a story, and it transformed his life. Just this spring, Aviva added, she attended an awards ceremony where the same student had won first place in an art contest for a drawing of the Tuskegee Airmen.

“It was very exciting to have the students there signing the books and sharing stories about all they have learned with members of the public and the people interviewed in the book,” Marian said. “We are deeply grateful to all the people who made donations and who donated food and time to help make the event such a success.”


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