SEPA funding makes We Engage project possible

Approximately one year ago, Susan Hershberger, the Director of Miami University’s Center for Chemistry Education and Melinda Butsch Kovacic, epidemiologist and community health researcher at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati, joined forces to request funding from the National Institutes of Health for a new community health education project called We Engage 4 Health.

The National Institutes of Health funds a wide array of biomedical research and also has a special division for science education projects called the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) Program. According to the SEPA website, SEPA “funds innovative pre-kindergarten to grade 12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and Informal Science Education educational projects. SEPA projects create partnerships among biomedical and clinical researchers and teachers and schools, museums and science centers, media experts, and other educational organizations.”

SEPA receives many proposals from around the United States but only funds a few — luckily, the We Engage 4 Health project is one of those few! The funding is for a 5-year project which will begin with about a year of program development and testing with project partner Seven Hills Neighborhood House. Over the coming years, the programming will expand and extend to partners in Price Hill and Over the Rhine.

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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.