When I learned that the lifetime cancer risk is now nearly one in two Americans, I decided we needed to do something to stop this trend by teaching young people to be proactive about their health! We’ve been educating about lifestyle choices for cancer prevention since 1977, but now we are specifically targeting young people.
In 2012, we launched our Youth Nutrition & Cancer Prevention Education Project, designed to help create an early appreciation for the powerful role of diet in cancer protection and obesity control. For the last two years, we have targeted students in the five-county Philadelphia area, in collaboration with local schools, colleges, and other organizations. I am thrilled and proud to report on the exciting results we have achieved!
In 2012-2013, with funding from the Schrenk Family Foundation, we delivered 10 programs and reached 224 middle school, high school, and community college students in Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware and Chester Counties.
The feedback we received was extremely positive. Nearly every venue at which we delivered programs asked us to return the next year. Of the participants who completed an evaluation form:
- 97% stated they learned a lot.
- 95% stated they planned to use the information in their lives.
- 76% stated they would share the information with their family.
- 36% stated they would share the information with their friends.
- 84% said they would try the healthy recipes we distributed.
- 95% rated the trainer as excellent or good.
- 93% stated they would recommend the program to others.
- 94% stated they planned to make healthy dietary changes.
Specific changes which participants committed to making include eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, eating more organic food when possible, and microwaving less.
Of the 139 participants who completed the pre-test and post-test, 99% showed a significant improvement in knowledge and awareness of cancer, nutrition and obesity facts. Average individual improvement on the post-test questionnaires was 759%.
After reviewing all of the data we collected, we concluded that the pilot program could serve as a model for an expanded youth education project in years to come.
With repeat funding from the Schrenk Foundation, the Ardmore Rotary, and the Lower Merion School District during the 2013-2014 academic year, we had similar success. We exceeded our accomplishments of the previous year, increasing our programs from 10 to 15, and doubling our participants from 224 to 448 high school and community college students in three Philadelphia area counties.
The feedback we received was again quite positive. Every venue at which we delivered programs asked us to return the next year. Although not all participants completed an evaluation form, of those who did, we noted the following:
- 90% stated they learned a lot. 87% stated they planned to use the information in their lives.
- 81% stated they would share the information with their family or friends.
- 80% said they would try the healthy recipes we distributed.
- 83% rated the trainer as excellent or good.
- 78% stated they would recommend the program to others.
- 84% stated they planned to make healthy dietary changes.
Of the 395 participants who completed the pre-test and post-test, 98% showed a significant improvement in knowledge and awareness of cancer, nutrition and obesity facts. Individual improvement on the post-test questionnaires averaged 870%.
Altogether, between 2012 and 2014, the positive evaluations and pre- and post-test comparisons suggest that our programs may indeed have the potential to impact the health of young adults and families across the nation.
Help us continue to make a difference! We are now seeking additional funding to expand this program to more and more students in more and more schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and beyond. If you know of a school interested in participating or a funding source that can support us – or if you yourself would like to make a donation specifically for this project — please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.