Health & Wellness Lab

Directors: Aaron Beighle, Heather Erwin, Melody Noland, & Anita Courtney

There is an urgent need to address childhood obesity in Kentucky. Kentucky is 4th heaviest state in the nation for youth (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2009). Schools provide an excellent location for impacting student health and are being called to do so. Students who are healthier learn better (Basch, 2010). However, in an era of increased accountability for student learning, schools are strapped for time. Kentucky schools are in dire need of strategies to impact student health while simultaneously enhancing students’ ability to learn. Thus, the purpose of this lab will be to develop, evaluate, and disseminate empirically supported school-based physical activity and wellness programs aimed at enhancing student learning by improving student health. Specifically, the programs will focus on health behaviors (e.g., PA) that will impact health outcomes (e.g., body composition) and ultimately impact mediators of learning (e.g., attention, attendance, and behavior).

Aims: (1) create an administrative infrastructure; (2) conduct a needs assessment; (3) develop, implement and evaluate programs based on needs assessment data; and (4) utilize data from preliminary implementations to seek external funding to support further programmatic strategies.

Student Engagement: K-12 students can be involved as participants and/or earning service hours for high school student involvement. Undergraduate students can earn credits for independent study or practicum hours. Graduate students can earn credit for independent study or research hours in addition to performing research for thesis or dissertation credit.

Strength of Collaboration: Individuals who will be affiliated and involved with this lab have several existing collaborations. Several faculty in KHP have previously collaborated on school-based PA projects. In addition to the interdepartmental collaborations that already exist, cross-college collaborations are already in place, and some new ones are anticipated. Currently, Dr. Alicia Fedewa is involved in the PAWS project as well as two other school-based PA interventions with Drs. Erwin and Beighle. Dr. Fred Danner has collaborated with Dr. Noland on previous health-related interventions. Anticipated collaborations may occur with Dr. Skip Kifer (Institute for Educational Research), Dr. Timothy Bricker (Chair of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine), Dr. Stephanie Rose (Jumpin’ Jaguars program through the College of Medicine), Dr. Mark Dignan (UK Prevention Research Center) , and Dr. Nancy Harrington (College of Communications and Information Studies). On-going professional development will be incorporated within each intervention/project. The KHP department has established the UK PAWS Institute, which occurs every summer to expose teachers to in-service training regarding PA and health promotion during physical education in schools.

Sponsored Research Potential: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Aetna Foundation, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, W. T. Grant Foundation, Institute of Education Sciences National Research and Development Centers Program all offer great potential for funding to advance the scope of this lab and to sustain this line of research. These opportunities include grants to conduct research, training grants and funding to create educational research centers.


Updated by on July 4, 2011 at 3:04 pm

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