2 WAHS students to join LHU professors, senior at National Shape America Conference

Two Williamsport Area High School seniors who serve as members on the Youth Development Task Force of Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition are among those who have been accepted to present at the 2018 SHAPE America National Convention in Nashville in March.

Morgan Marty and Mary McMahon will join two Lock Haven University health science professors, Dr. Jennifer Rudella and Dr. Beth McMahon, and LHU senior Katie Mohn, a health science/community and public health major. Together, the group will present on the recent findings of their research: “Youth Perspectives About Their Risk Behaviors and Mental Health Needs.”

The research was conducted by the coalition, which is compromised of student representatives from the nine school districts in Lycoming County, and serves as a subcommittee of the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition. Among its activities, the student-led group plans and implements youth-related community activities with the focus of “Find Your Anti-Drug — Join the Majority,” and “Find Your Worth — Positive Mental Health.” The coalition uses a collaborative, community and data-driven approach to reduce drug and alcohol use and promote positive mental health.

Data for their research was based on the biennial Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS), which is administered to sixth-, eighth-, 10th- and 12th-grade students in Lycoming County. The data has been collected by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) for more than 20 years. It collects information about knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors toward alcohol, tobacco and other substance abuse, as well as mental health issues, such as self-harm, depression and suicide.

In focus groups, more than 65 youth from around Lycoming County were presented with the PAYS survey results. They were asked a series of questions to help guide discussion in a needs assessment study on how families, communities and schools can improve protective efforts and reduce risk.

The Nashville-bound group will present not only on the data collected but also on the qualitative findings that emerged during the focus group sessions, which include recommendations to curtail or mitigate depression- and stress-related issues.

To view results of the 2017 survey, visit http://bit.ly/PAYSResults.

According to its website, SHAPE America, which stands for Society of Health and Physical Educators, “is the nation’s largest membership organization of health and physical education professionals. … (It provides) programs and resources to support health and physical educators at every level, and work to make a positive impact on school health and physical education through our state and national advocacy efforts.”