Two grant-funded projects recently concluded by MTSU’s Center for Health and Human Services will enhance the well-being and education of Tennessee children across the state.
ACEs, as they are called, are traumatic events that children experience before they turn 18. These can include divorce, incarceration, domestic abuse, substance abuse and parental mental illness. The tool kit provides faculty in higher education with materials to help their students identify, address and mitigate the physical and mental aspects of ACEs.
MTSU already has integrated the tool kit into seven different programs and departments across campus, and there is potential to introduce it to other campus disciplines. Its creators want to reach as many future professionals as possible, including those who traditionally do not cover ACEs in their curricula.
“We are so pleased with the outcome of this yearlong collaborative effort,” said Sarah Gwinn, grant/program coordinator for the center. “Feedback from the funder and the community has been positive about the impact this tool can have in equipping MTSU graduates to mitigate ACEs across the state.”
Hard copies of the tool kit are available upon request at no charge for all higher education institutions throughout Tennessee. Digital copies may be obtained at www.mtsu.edu/cchs.
During the 2017-2018 academic year, the Center for Health and Human Services, along with the MTSU Center for Physical Activity and Health in Youth, conducted a pilot after-school physical activity program using SPARK, an evidence-based curriculum.
The U.S. Department of Education has described SPARK, which stands for Sports, Play and Recreation for Kids, as an “exemplary” program. Since its inception in 1989, SPARK has provided participating schools with curricula, on-site teacher training, ongoing technical support and content-matched equipment.
At the request of and with funding and support from the Tennessee Department of Health and in partnership with Tennessee Coordinated School Health, students in Benton, Hickman, Meigs and Sullivan counties were enrolled in the program, and academic performance and indicators of health were observed.
Building on the success of this SPARK pilot, the Tennessee Department of Health provided funding to MTSU for the “SPARK 2 Read” program during the 2018-2019 school year.
The Center for Health and Human Services produced a curriculum to enhance student activities beyond those offered in traditional physical education courses. The center provided supplemental programming to the SPARK curriculum to include literacy, tobacco prevention and opioid misuse education.
“SPARK 2 Read” was launched in 16 schools in Hickman, Benton, Lewis, Rutherford, Decatur, Crockett, Warren, Haywood and Franklin counties.
“We hope that results from the 2018-2019 SPARK 2 Read project will help us learn more about the role that after school-based activity programs can have on literacy and the overall health and well-being of children, and we are pleased to have completed this project as an outgrowth of the original SPARK pilot study” said Cynthia Chafin, associate director of MTSU’s Center for Health and Human Services.
Through collaborative affiliations and partnerships, the center facilitates research, programs and projects in public health issues of importance to Tennessee, consistent with the mission and purpose of MTSU.
The MTSU Center for Physical Activity and Health in Youth seeks to promote childhood physical activity and improve the physical fitness of youth in Tennessee.
For more information about the Center for Health and Human Services or either of the two projects described above, contact Chafin at 615-898-5493 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the MTSU Center for Physical Activity and Health in Youth, contact Don Morgan at 615-898-5549 or email@example.com.
— Gina Logue (Gina.Logue@mtsu.edu)