Publications and Presentations

Table of Contents

SNEB Conference 2023

The Power of Graphic Style Stories to Empower Sustainable Healthy Eating Behaviors

Cognitive science tells us that stories are powerful tools for engagement, learning, and building relationships. Graphic-style stories can be effective in sharing nutrition messages across for all ages; however, they are underutilized. The proposed workshop will cover the basic of story-making including principles and steps for creating successful, culturally relevant graphic-style stories with community members. Attendees will be provided an opportunity to practice key steps in the story planning process including writing a short script. Attendees can use the knowledge and skills learned to better communicate with their audiences, particularly those wishing to promote sustainable and healthy eating behaviors.

Story sharing is known as an effective empowerment strategy in promoting health behavior change. As readers become engaged and identify with the characters, they become more receptive to the story’s message and more open to adopting behavior modeled by the story characters. A graphic format adds engagement and reduces complex vocabulary by using images to convey ideas. Thus far, the usage of graphic stories in nutrition education has been limited. This proposed workshop on story writing and illustration in Comic Life will introduce to nutrition educators a new way to communicate nutrition messages through engagement, learning, and building relationships.

Facilitators will provide clear steps to create stories with community co-designers and an example of a story seeking to increase food literacy in breast cancer survivors. Attendee groups will then choose a topic, identify three big ideas, and draft a script following 3-step story arc. Groups will read their story out loud as its characters and complete a story impact survey. A Comic Life demo will be shared
( It will end with a Q&A and sharing resources including “Power of Stories How-To Guide”.

Susan Gertz

Seung-Yeon Lee

Melinda Butsch Kovacic

Please contact presenters for slides if you attended this workshop.

Please contact presenters for handouts if you attended this workshop.

SciEd Conference 2022

How to Develop Science and Health Outreach Stories for All Ages

The session will provide an  overview of the power of science and health outreach stories in informal education and the process We Engage 4 Health uses to create and evaluate them. Participants will work in groups, each with a chosen health science topic, to identify three big ideas for a story, plan a story arc, and begin story script. Groups will exchange stories, read them out loud taking the parts of characters, and evaluate the stories using a story impact survey. If time permits, presenters will demonstrate putting one of the scripts into a graphic format using Comic Life software. Presenters will later put all group’s scripts into graphic format and e-mail attendees the resulting PDFs to help demonstrate how the story creation process plays out. Links to a story development guide and other resources will be provided.

Susan Gertz

Lauren Bates

Climate Club 2021: Environmental Health Research for Young Citizen Scientists

We Engage 4 Health (WE4H) is a health outreach project working with communities in southern Ohio. In summer 2021, we were approached by a community partner interested in teaching elementary-school children in a summer program about the impact of the environment on resident’s health and involve them in collecting environmental data as citizen scientists. To create this program, we adapted materials from existing WE4H programs that were originally developed for middle school through adult ages to create a 6-week Climate Club. WE4H programs feature graphic style stories that participants read out loud as the characters followed by discussion and related activities. For Climate Club, we used selected stories from our Health is Happenin’ RAP program, our Citizen Science RAP program, and training materials for our environmental health data collection tool called Eyewitness Community Survey (ECS). Topics included how to pose research questions, how to collect and present data, and the impact of heat islands and air quality on health. Hands-on activities included testing filtration materials, graphing candy color frequencies, and investigating how metals affect Kool-Aid. Citizen science activity included using the ECS tool to observe the school grounds environment and the Airbeam Sensor to collect air quality and temperature data.

Lauren Bates

Susan Gertz

Climate Club: Environmental Health Research for Young Citizen Scientists

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Meet Big Sam

Big Sam is a 40-something security guard at the high school Jazzy and Vito attend. Big Sam is worried about his health and recently found out his blood pressure is high. He covers up his worries with jokes. He lives in the apartment above Miss Georgia.

Meet Jazzy

Jazzy is a cheerful younger high school age girl. She is a cheerleader and does gymnastics. She enjoys spending time with older people and loves to bake with Miss Georgia. She has asthma and works hard to control it so she can enjoy her activities.

Meet Cardi

Cardi is a 30-something aerobics teacher at the community center who loves to help people get more fit and healthy but can be a bit too much “in your face” about it. She means well though!

Meet Vito

Vito is a plays-it-cool older high schooler who is sweet-natured at heart. He plays basketball at the community center and is friends with Jazzy. He loves pop and chips and can’t see why eating all he wants of them is a problem.

Meet Pops

Pops is a retired high school science teacher who loves to keep helping people learn about science and health. He likes to check out what everyone is doing or talking about and step in to give his opinion.

Meet Miss Georgia

Miss Georgia is a fun-loving lady in her 50’s who loves to sing, dance, and bake. She is always helping out at community events. She recently found out she has diabetes, and she is learning new ways to cook.