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Using Photovoice to Identify Contextually Relevant Elements of a Title I School Health Plan

  • Author(s): Bow, Sabrina Lee
  • Advisor(s): Cooper, Robert
  • et al.
Abstract

This exploratory study used a qualitative research approach to examine a predominantly Latino Title I elementary school's existing health plan to identify how the plan addresses obesity in children and how the school engages parents in these activities. Additionally, the researcher employed photovoice to interview mothers and elicit information about their food purchase, preparation, consumption, physical activity practices, and channels of communication for health information within their household. This study was guided by the following research questions: (1) How does the current school health plan address obesity in children? (2) In what ways is the school working with families to lower obesity in children? (3) What are the elements of a contextually relevant health program for a Title I school? The findings from this study suggest that, while the school's health plan components may provide a framework for obesity intervention, the plan does not include a comprehensive obesity intervention program for students. Moreover, there was no evidence of widespread participation among parents in any of the health and nutrition activities provided by the school. From the data emerged the unexpected finding that suggests that low-income mothers are making deliberate choices around high-quality food and physical activity to establish a micro-environment of health within their households in spite of the influence of the obesogenic, underresourced environment that encompasses the local neighborhood.

This study contributes new knowledge about four elements of a contextually relevant school health plan for a predominantly Latino Title I school. The model comprised by these four elements acknowledges multicultural and multiethnic food traditions while providing research-based nutrition information, facilitates student and family access to physical activity and health information, and addresses the economic constraints on food purchase experienced by low-income families. Additionally, this model outlines a paradigm in which parent engagement is facilitated by decreasing barriers to participation and increasing two-way communication between schools and families in a way that is idiosyncratic, driven by the needs of the families, supported by the socioecological resources of the community, and is economically and linguistically appropriate for the students and families served by Title I schools.

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