Passport to Health Program Empowers Students to Make Good Decisions
- Passport to Health is a program that educates students about the importance of decision-making and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
- The goal of the program is to provide a generation of students with the proper decision-making skills that will lead to good health habits.
- Bullying is one of the most serious issues in schools today. Passport to Health recently added bullying as its newest offering, and the program has gotten off to a great start.
- Other topics included in the Passport to Health Program are genetics, dental health, tobacco prevention, germ prevention, exercise, heart health, nutrition, safety and sun safety.
- Elementary schools interested in obtaining information on the Passport to Health Program should call Debbie Simon, DCMH Healthline Services, at (610) 284-8158.
Passport to Health is a program funded by Crozer-Keystone Health System, AztraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, and TD Bank that educates students about the importance of decision-making and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
At CKHS, the Passport to Health Program was initiated through meetings between area elementary school teachers and nurses of Crozer-Keystone Cancer Services who invest their time and efforts into the futures of impressionable students. The goal of the program is to provide a generation of students with the proper decision-making skills that will lead to good health habits.
Since the 2004-05 school year, Passport to Health has steadily increased the number of schools and students that participate. This September, Passport to Health will reach 30 public and parochial schools. Debbie Simon, director of Healthline Services at Delaware County Memorial Hospital, says, “Passport to Health has grown by leaps and bounds. We went from reaching 500 students in the program’s first year to 6,000 students this year.”
Passport to Health designates a topic for each of the nine months throughout the year. These topics explore health-related issues that children face in and outside of their schools, such as dental health, tobacco use, germ prevention, exercise, heart health, nutrition and sun safety.
The program’s newest topic – bullying – will be covered in fifth grade classrooms in October. With the invention of cyber-bullying, bullying has become a big issue for students, schools and parents. According to www.safeyouth.org, nearly 30 percent of the nation’s youth are involved in bullying as either a bully, a target of bullying, or both. It is an issue that every school needs to address.
Joe Perezi, who works in the Emergency Department at Delaware County Memorial Hospital, facilitates Passport to Health’s bullying program. Over the past decade, Perezi has worked primarily on substance abuse programs. Last spring, however, he dedicated time to create a bullying program, which was adopted by the Passport to Health program and proved to be very effective.
This past spring, the bullying program was piloted in a few area schools reaching approximately 400 students “Every school is different when it comes to bullying,” Perezi explains.
Each presentation is tailored to the “bullying climate” of each school. He uses a PowerPoint presentation that provides visual aid and helps keep the program on track. But, the program relies more on open discussion to get everyone involved and talking about bullying on a personal level.
Perezi starts his presentation by introducing himself and explaining the program guidelines. He then explains the different types of bullying, which are physical, verbal, relational and cyber. Next, he identifies the characteristics of a bully by asking, “Does anyone know an example from a TV show or in a movie?”
After identifying a bully’s characteristics, they talk about the way a bully would act and name examples. After describing a bully he informs the children about the negative effects bullying could have on their future.
Toward the end of the presentation they talk about ways of stopping a bully, the effects bullying has on everyone, and the rules against bullying. Students then receive handouts and small gifts for participating and the school is presented with an educational poster.
If you would like to schedule a presentation on bullying in your elementary school or for information on the Passport to Health Program, call Debbie Simon at (610) 284-8158.