SRU public health students organize community social media campaign
This graphic about problem gambling prevention was created by Slippery Rock University public health graduate students as part of their campaign with Keystone Wellness Programs to address public health in the community.
July 8, 2020
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Slippery Rock University students are finding ways to collaborate with community partners and share public health messages even while they are apart due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Five students enrolled in the online master's degree in public health program are completing a practicum project this summer by working with Keystone Wellness Programs, a nonprofit health promotion agency serving Butler and Beaver counties. Together, they are leading social media campaigns to educate the Slippery Rock community on public health topics that include problem gambling, underage drinking and vaping.
"This is an excellent opportunity to showcase our students and how they can give back to the community," said Joe Robare, associate professor of public health and social work. "They are working with many different organizations and people with different professional backgrounds, while translating their research of topics into practice with experiential learning."
Robare partnered with Amy Black-Stockham, health educator at KWP, and invited his students to work with KWP to fulfill their 200 practicum hours. The master's degree in public health students involved are Olivia Baer from Liberty Township, Ohio; Jaclyn Carpenter from New Castle; Ashley Marinos from Rostraver Township; Katerina Patrick from Latrobe; and Madison Przicina from Clark.
According to Robare, SRU public health students have previously worked remotely with different agencies but this partnership is different due to the scale in which students get to participate.
"This is unique because it's five students working together, it's 100% remote work and they are developing original social media content," Robare said. "This is the first time any of our students have done something like this. It's taking the needs assessment of the community and pushing it through program development and into program evaluation."
KWP had previously organized a coalition of Slippery Rock community leaders to address public health issues, and the SRU students met virtually with the group to identify topics for social campaigns. For example, the underage drinking campaign was recommended by coalition representatives from Slippery Rock Area School District to correspond with the district's July 10 prom. Content developed by the SRU students is being shared on a Facebook group targeting SRASD students and their parents.
"Social media is the best place to reach people with educational materials and I'm really thankful that we're able to do these campaigns," Baer said. "It's a nice, creative way to use images, graphics and videos instead of distributing pamphlets or statistics. We're pulling together all this content to make it enjoyable and accessible for people."
The SRU students took advantage of user-friendly services like Canva to t help them create social media graphics. They also accessed educational resources through KWP, from state resources such as the Pennsylvania Youth Survey and by attending a virtual conference hosted by the Commonwealth Prevention Alliance.
Black-Stockham sees the partnership as a win for the students, the community, the KWP and the coalition.
"This is beneficial for everyone," Black-Stockham said. "As a professional in the field, sustainability is everything. I see this as a relationship being one in which we can sustain programs, not just with individuals, but as a relationship with the University serving future students. The University is integral to the community, so as a coalition we want investment from people who make up the community and that includes SRU students."
For more information about the KWP, visit KeystoneWellnessPrograms.org. To see an example from the students' social media campaign, check out the KWP's Facebook page.
To learn more about SRU's public health programs, visit the Public Health Department's webpage.
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