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April 22, 2017

HealthNets: 15 Years as a Forum for Health Education Ideas

by Sophia Conti ’15

More than 80 health educators from across Long Island and New York City attended the 2016 HealthNets Partnerships in Health Conference hosted by the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education. HealthNets started as a simple “meeting of the minds” for health educators to exchange teaching ideas on various aspects of health education, but has grown into an established conference that celebrated its 15th anniversary with the 2016 conference.

Four breakout sessions—two led by Adelphi alumni—gave conference-goers opportunites to hear new ideas from their fellow educators. Technology has become an increasingly important focus, with more schools distributing tablets to their students. To stay current, health teachers must keep up with technological advances and other innovative teaching methods, such as creating games that promote correlation of risky behavior and outcomes.    

In a session entitled “Managing Your Health World,” Charlie Rizzuto M.A. ’11, an Oyster Bay High School educator, presented strategies and technological tools for creating an open and collaborative environment in the health classroom.

Andrew Richter ’03, M.A. ’08, North Shore Middle School, in a session called “A Healthier Tomorrow,” introduced innovative activities that teachers could immediately incorporate into their health classrooms.

During “Fun Ways to Teach Health,” Krista Militelo, Deer Park School District, drew from 22 years of teaching experience to demonstrate some of her favorite health lessons and inspire teachers to energize their old lessons with new ideas and technologies. Joseph Maiello, Harborfield Oldfield Middle School, outlined an “Assessment Plan for Health Education,” to enable teachers to create flexible yet structured plans for teaching.

The conference also featured general-attendance sessions, one of which featured Katie Schumacher, a teacher from Rockville Centre who created Don’t Press Send—a campaign dedicated to educating young people about cyber civics and encouraging them to use technology in safe and meaningful ways. She presented strategies for teachers to encourage student mindfulness and a kind and careful approach to social media and technology.

Schumacher returned to Adelphi’s campus in March, 2017, to speak at TEDxAdelphiUniversity. There, she urged parents to give young people the ground rules, guidelines and tools they’ll need to avoid the pitfalls of today’s digital world. Youngsters, for instance, need to learn to “think about what you’re saying before you act,” interact with one another in social occasions and remember it’s just as “inappropriate to speak to strangers online” via X-box and the like as it is in real life.

Bronwen Pardes, a professor of human sexuality at Nassau Community College, presented a general session discussing the use of anonymous surveys to gather information about students that can then be used to make class discussions more meaningful.

The conference also featured the debut of the One Love Escalation video. Cynthia Proscia, coordinator of the HealthNets event and an Ammon School professor of health studies, works as a facilitator for One Love, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about dating and relationship violence. Teachers and conference attendees were able to connect with the organization, and Proscia now works as a co-facilitator with several alumni to bring One Love to schools and even Adelphi’s own on-campus organizations.

Although attendance has fluctuated over the years, a group of approximately 20 educators have faithfully attended each HealthNets conference. These participants have included new hires from their schools and Adelphi’s health education alumni, sometimes returning as participants, sometimes as presenters.

HealthNets stands out as the first and for many years only conference dedicated exclusively to health education in the greater NYC area. Its 2017 Adelphi event is slated for November 7.







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