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Participating Schools

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Schools invited to participate in the study have an important role in the Healthy Communities Study (HCS). Schools help recruit students and their families into the study. We also visit the schools so we can learn about their nutrition and physical activity environments.

How Are Schools Selected?

In each selected community, up to 2 elementary and 2 middle schools, or a Kindergarten through 8th grade (K-8) school, are picked and invited to participate in the study. Our study partner, NORC, contacts the school districts and the selected schools in each community for approval to conduct this very important research.

What Are Selected Schools Asked To Do For The Study?

Schools that agree to be in the study have two key roles:

  • Schools are asked to help recruit families from among their students, and
  • Schools are asked to allow the study team to collect information on the food and physical activity environments at the school.

How Do Schools Help Recruit Families For The Study?

Schools receive a Toolkit with materials and information about the study. A letter, brochure and a Study Interest Form are sent home with children in K-8 grades to give to their parents. Parents/Caregivers who are interested in learning more about the study or who may want to participate in the study complete the Study Interest Form and return it to their child’s school.

Each school picks a school liaison -- someone from their staff to help with these activities. The school liaison helps raise awareness about the study in the school and community, and is a contact person for families. The school liaison collects the Study Interest Forms returned to the school to provide to the study team.

How Does The School’s Participation Help The Community?

Schools that participate in the study provide critical information that will help inform community leaders on the relationship of programs and policies in that community and the health, physical activity behaviors and dietary choices of children.

How Does The Study Collect Information On The Food And Physical Activity Environments At The Schools?

A researcher from the study team visits the school one day for about 2 hours to collect information about eating and physical activity at the school. During the visit, the researcher observes one lunch period, asks a few questions of a food service person, and walks around the outdoor areas of the school to collect information on the available physical activity resources. The researcher also conducts a brief interview with someone from the school’s physical education staff.

We also collect information on the nutrition and physical activity policies and procedures at the school through an online survey that the school liaison completes. Information on the school’s food environment is collected from the District Food Service Manager in the school’s district.

Will The School Receive Anything For Participating?

As a thank-you for the time and effort spent helping with the study, each school and each school liaison is offered a small gift.

Last Updated September 2013

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