Learn To Be Healthy: a health science learning site designed to help educators make learning about health fun for kids & teens

Learn To Be Healthy: a health science learning site designed to help educators make learning about health fun for kids & teens

United States
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We provide fun, interactive student health science activities & teacher lesson plans for FREE that meet National & State Education Standards.

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Plot your innovation within the mosaic of solutions
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Product Design Orientation

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Cognitive Fitness

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic:

This field has not been completed

What is your signature innovation in one sentence?

We provide fun, interactive student health science activities & teacher lesson plans for FREE that meet National & State Education Standards.

Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?

LearntobeHealthy.org is comprised of 3 separate & very distinct FREE websites. The Parents/Teachers site provides a classroom teacher or parent with a series of high quality Internet-based educational activities & lesson plans. The lesson plans, built upon evidence-based model programs, include activities that make learning about health exciting for students. The eLearning kits enable school teachers the flexibility to choose activities that are done in collaborative groups, independently, or teacher-led. Each kit employs a variety of media & educational modalities, such as animation, vivid graphics, & sound effects, to make learning fun. The activities also address specific learning objectives that are aligned to Health & Technology Education Standards, while meeting the diverse learning styles of all students. Similarly, our Kids & future Teens sites address these issues on the students levels focusing on fun & learning. We complete the circle between student/school/home.

What barriers exist that are creating the problem your innovation is hoping to address/change?

In 2003, only 28.8% of PA 6-17 year olds participated in physical activity 4-6 times/week for at least 20 minutes making them sweat & breathe hard (Nat’l Survey of Children’s Health). As a result of this inactivity, we are in the midst of a public health crisis & obesity is on the rise. Children model behaviors that they are exposed to. Heart disease, cancer & stroke are the leading causes of death that are preventable by healthier nutrition & regular physical activity.

Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing.

We have initiated e-marketing campaigns to increase traffic to LearntobeHealthy.org. These campaigns to date have included banner ads and lesson plans posted on LessonPlansPage.com, MyTeacherTools.com, and the Kaboose Network. Search engine optimization and search engine marketing have also been implemented through Google, Yahoo! and MSN under targeted keyword phrases. Various email campaigns were directed towards current subscribers which helped increase the number of return visitors to LearntobeHealthy.org. These methods have expanded awareness of LearnToBeHealthy.org and increased web traffic and site membership.

In addition, all educational kits have been created using Flash, a web-friendly standard that makes content available to the widest range of operating systems both at home and in school.

How do you plan to scale your innovation?

LTBH is designed to be expanded upon in many ways. The site was built with the expectation of adding new games, activities, and lesson plans. Also, to ensure the value of the sites to classroom teachers, we plan to develop premium services which may include things such as streaming video, asynchronous and synchronous learning, community and corporate health education games and modules, and merchandise related to the characters on LTBH. Through focus groups and research, we are strategically determining the content which will equip teachers, parents, and community leaders with tools to assist them at school, in the home, at work, and in the community.

Provide one sentence describing your impact.

A focused effort targeted at assisting children in making a small, healthy changes over time translating into huge rewards for their futures.

What impact has your innovation had to date? Exactly who are the beneficiaries of your innovation?

LearnToBeHealthy has served 606,471 total visitors to since its launch in December 2005. Almost 49% of these visits were international in scope, and the average visit duration for all visitors was just over 18 minutes. Approximately 55% of visitors hail from North America, with Western Europe (30%), Australia (6%), Asia (4%), Africa (2%) and the Middle East (1%) accounting for the remainder. Equally important, the number of visits continues to trend upward.

These visitors include teachers, parents and students. The beneficiaries of our innovation are the those who access our site whether they do so one-on-one in computer labs or at home or if their teacher projects the site in the classrooms and the class goes through the kits collectively. In addition, friends and family members of visitors to our site who learn about making healthy choices from our visitors are indirect beneficiaries of our innovation.

How many people have you served directly?

LearntobeHealthy.org currently has over 46,000 members of our FREE site. Of our members, 76% are educators, 8% are parents and 16% are kids and teens. By joining the site for FREE, members get complete access to our health education lesson plans and activities. Visitors are able to browse the site and engage in sample activities.

How many people have you served indirectly?

Of the 46,472 members of LearntobeHealthy.org, 76% are educators. By conservatively estimating teachers to have 20 students per class and only assuming they work with one class on LearntobeHealthy, we can extrapolate that over 708,000 students have been served by our innovation.

Please list any other measures reflective of the impact of your innovation

The e-learning kits provide students with the long-term health benefits of lifestyle choices. These habits develop early in life and may become very difficult to change. The skills they will target are healthy food choices and increased physical activity. This program provides preventative skills, coping skills and personal responsibility followed by taking action immediately for wellness. These skills can be lifetime habits that will be demonstrated to their friends and family.

What are the main barriers to creating your impact?

There are three main barriers to creating our impact. The first is individual school’s access to the technology required to use the online games and activities found on LearntobeHealthy.org. Also, some teachers are simply unwilling to incorporate technology into the classroom. Finally, maintaining the website to keep it fresh and full of content that motivates users to check back often is an ongoing challenge.

How is your initiative financed?

LearntobeHealthy.org was created through a grant from the Highmark Foundation. This grant enabled the Center to design the infrastructure of the website, and to create the first set of interactive games and the accompanying lesson plans. Following this initial year of the funding, the Byrnes Health Education Center maintained the hosting of the site itself, and was able to develop a few more activities with grant funding from the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and Adhesives Research. In December 2006, Highmark Healthy High 5, an initiative of the Highmark Foundation, awarded the Center funding to redesign the existing site, add new content for teenagers, evaluate the effectiveness, and expand the utilization of the site through marketing.

Provide information on your finances and organization: annual budget, annual revenue, number of staff:

The Byrnes Health Education Center has an annual budget of $2.8 million. The Center has 32 employees (17 full time and 15 part/flex time) including LTBH staff. LearntobeHealthy.org has 3.75 FTE employees. In addition, the Center has approximately 100 volunteers.

What is the potential demand for your innovation?

Parents, teachers, students or anyone who has a desire for wellness are potential users. The dangers of obesity, smoking & illicit drug use are prevalent in grades 6-8. In the past 30 years, obesity rate for 6-19 year olds has quadrupled. Obesity is a precursor for more serious health issues. In 2006-2007 smoking among PA grades 6-8 was 7%. In 2005 in PA grades 6-8, 5.6% students reported using any drug. Teachers can reinforce the dangers of obesity, smoking & drug use with LearntobeHealthy.org.

What are the main barriers to financial sustainability?

As a substantial portion of the funding for LearntobeHealthy.org has been through grants, sustainability has been thoroughly explored. Attracting potential funders is an on-going challenge and the need to self-sustain the site in the future is a goal that has been identified. Premium services and an e-commerce component will be implemented in the future to help ensure the sustainability of the site.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

The Susan P. Byrnes Health Education Center (HEC) was created through the conviction that education is the key to a healthier community. As a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles, the HEC instills an appreciation of the incredible human body & gives people tools they need to make healthy choices. Our mission is to educate & inspire people of all ages to make healthy choices. The HEC opened in 1995 & was the dream of Susan Byrnes, RN, who after experience as an emergency department nurse & subsequently losing a family member to substance abuse, became passionate about preventative health education & was inspired to teach others about leading a healthy life. The HEC began as a field trip destination programs taught in 5 high-tech Teaching Theaters located at the HEC in York, PA. Programs are taught on a diverse range of topics such as nutrition, tobacco prevention, dental health, stress management, puberty, the 5 senses, anatomy, safety, & fitness, just to name a few. To reach additional students we began providing outreach programs delivered directly in school classrooms & in the community. Another aspect of the HEC's outreach initiative is Wellness Works, a comprehensive corporate wellness program. To dissolve geographic barriers to the HEC, we turned to the internet. Our site is designed to be fun & engaging while effectively communicating key health concepts to students. The site launched at the end of 2005, & has grown to over 46,000 members.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material

Susan P. Byrnes was 5 years old when she knew she wanted to help others as a nurse. She worked for 8 years as an Emergency Department nurse & became frustrated with treating disease. Knowing that many diseases could be prevented if healthy lifestyles were chosen, she knew that she could keep people healthy by teaching prevention. After suffering the loss of a family member due to unhealthy choices, she left the hospital & dedicated her life to helping others make healthy choices.

How did you hear about this contest and what is your main incentive to participate? (this is confidential)

Our technology partner and developer--JPL Productions--informed us of this contest. In addition, our fundraising department heard about this from our local library.