1 Running head: PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING Katelyn Hall Brigham Young University Promoting Positive Advertising in Your Local School District
ENGL 312 PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING “As a senior at Brigham Young University I have been presented with many health related issues in my chosen field of study. Taking classes through the Exercise & Wellness and Nutrition programs has opened my eyes and has given me a firm foundation off of which I have built and developed opinions on these issues. With the help of professors and researchers around the world I hope to gain your trust as I address the most intriguing issue of them all, the ever growing epidemic of childhood obesity.” Katelyn Hall 2
PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING Our nation is constantly at war with numerous issues. From the war on drugs to the war on the family, the leaders of our nation have their hands full, leaving other problems, like childhood obesity, on the back-burner with the rest of the greasy, artery clogging double bacon cheeseburgers. In April of 2008, former Surgeon General, Dr. Richard Carmona, addressed this issue in San Francisco and made this riveting statement, “At a time when we are at war, at a time when there are so many competing interests, obesity really isn’t a sexy thing” (FORA.tv, 2008).He also shared an experience from 2005 when a reporter asked him, “Surgeon General, what is the most pressing issue before you today?” He answered with, “Obesity, because obesity is the terror within. It is destroying us, it is destroying our society from within” (FORA.tv, 2008). So who is fighting the war on childhood obesity? After all, it could very well be one of the most dangerous epidemics in the nation. The Problem at LARGE 3
PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING …continued. This epidemic is so extremely dangerous for multiple reasons. One of them being it’s affect on the lifespan of it’s victims. In 2006, Daniels stated: The increasing prevalence and severity of childhood obesity may reverse the modern era's steady increase in life expectancy, with today's youth on average living less healthy and ultimately shorter lives than their parents-the first such reversal in lifespan in modern history. Such a possibility makes obesity in children an issue of utmost public health concern. (p. 47) In the five years since this statement was published we have seen a significant climb in childhood obesity and even signs of chronic illnesses in our nation’s youth (Daniels, 2006, p. 48). If this is kept up then how do we honestly expect our nation to have a successful future? On the same note, who do we expect to go to war for our country? run our retirement homes and hospitals? raise our grandchildren? Simply, the future work force does not look as appetizing as that back-burner double bacon cheeseburger. I am here to convince you, as a parent of these future leaders, that the declining health of our nation’s youth is preventable! With the many challenges and trials that our nation is facing, this is one of few that can be rerouted. In this brochure it is my goal to assist you in successfully influencing the epidemic of childhood obesity in your own home1and community. 1Many children are also homeschooled, making it even more important that their homes provide a healthy environment. The Problem at LARGE 4
PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING Considering that 31.0% of the children in our nation are overweight or obese, it is important that we understand how they are actually defined as such (Hedley, Ogden, Johnson, Carroll, & Curtin, 2004, p. 2847). The parameters for obesity in children is determined differently than done so in adults. Defining Childhood Obesity 5
Defining Childhood Obesity PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING …continued. As you may know, adults—being defined as 20+ years of age—use the BMI scale to determine the status of their body composition. BMI stands for “body mass index” and is used to measure body composition (Deurenberg & Mabel, 1999, p. 7). In more technical terms, it is a “weight to height index providing a measure of body weight corrected forheight” (Deurenberg &Mabel, 1999, p. 7). This measurement is represented by a number that can be found on the BMI chart. Depending on what range the number falls in roughly determines your body composition. The ranges for adults are 18.5>beingunderweight, 18.5-24.9 beingnormal, 25-29.9 being overweight, and 30< being obese (Flegal, Carroll, Ogden, & Curtin, 2010, p. 235). Different phases of obesity are then introduced after a BMI of 30 (Flegalet al., 2010, p. 235). Children—ages 6-19—are measured in percentiles. If your child fell below the 5th percentile then they would bedefined as underweight,5th-85thwould be normal, 85th-95thwould be “at risk” to be over weight;and 95th<would be over weight(Hedley et al., 2004, p. 2847). Many fallacies have been brought to light about these measurements. One of the largest issue is that of the term “overweight.” The truth of the matter is the children that are above the 95th percentile are actually obese. The problem is your pediatrician will not tell you this in fear of damaging the confidence or emotions of your child. It is your job to be knowledgeable of these measurements. 6
What is causing childhood obesity? PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING Childhood obesity is being caused by a lot more than that double bacon cheeseburger that has America wrapped around it’s little finger. A larger causing agent is that of being uninformed. An uniformed parent is more likely to feed their children foods with refined sugar, allow them to watch multiple hours of TV a day, and fail to sign them up for little league baseball. Story, Kaphingst, & French (2006) stated,“Parents create an environment conducive to active or sedentary lifestyles” (p. 130). It is the sedentary lifestyle that is so hazardous for their children’s health and potential. Outside of the home, kids spend many hours a day in another vital environment: schools. If a child’s home is full of unhealthy habits then their only chance at a healthy life is provided by the classroom. 7
Obesity in Our Schools PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING A place where the majority of our nation’s children can be found is in the schools. Story et al. (2006) released a statement saying, “Schools can become one of the nation’s most effective weapons in the fight against obesity by creating an environment that is conducive to healthful eating and physical activity” (p. 130). This being the case, schools are one of the most influential environments that our children are involved in. Unfortunately, many school districts have not been able to provide a healthy environment. Schools are now being filled with vending machines, al a cartes, and advertisements for large franchise companies that sell every kind of junk food you can think of (Story et al., 2006, p. 117). Take note that some school districts have banned such things from their hallways and cafeterias. However, in many cases schools need more money and are willing to sacrifice the health of their students—your children—in order to obtain this extra revenue. 8
PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING …continued. “Lisa Ray, founder of the Minnesotabased group Parents for Ethical Marketing, says the biggest problem with in-school advertising is that it undermines parents’ ability to protect their children from commercial messages” (Macedo, 2010, p. 2). Convincing you that childhood obesity is a rising issue in our nation is not a difficult task. There are multiple studies and research plainly shows this problem. However, convincing you to help the next generation become and stay healthy is quite the challenge. Throughout this brochure I will provide for you some how-to’s of keeping your child healthy amidst the marketing in today’s school systems and how to become a successful advocate for making a difference in your local school district. Obesity in Our Schools 9
What You Can Do PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING Promote healthy living in your public school system! This means getting rid of the negative and unhealthy advertising and replacing it with positive and uplifting material that promotes a healthy lifestyle. Advertising and marketing does not have to be a negative concept. It can be used to benefit the well-being of students throughout the nation. Replacing junk food and even pop culture ads on lockers, book covers, and school buses with healthier advertisements can significantly influence students. 10
What You Can Do PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING …continued. The negative effects of advertisers and marketers infiltrating our school system are very clear. Not only is the health of our children compromised, but their shaky morals are tested and their vulnerable minds simply cannot appropriately compute what is being placed all around them. Since these children are so receptive to this media, we as parents and adults need to be extra careful with what kind of media that we let into the schools (Story et al., 2006, p. 130). Alternative options that promote ahealthy lifestyle include the government’s “MyPyramid,” now known as “MyPlate.”Other substitutions that could be made include promoting exercise, after school programs, or walk-a-thons.The trick to this type of advertising is findingbusinesses and companies that actually want to advertise in schools. Paul Miller, owner of Coon Rapids-based School Media’s, stated, “We require all advertisers to be education-, nutrition-, or health-and-wellness-based. If it calls outside those parameters, we don’t allow them to advertise in the schools” (“Schools open lockers,” 2010). Miller’s business does exactly this as they advertise for a local zoo promoting no texting while driving, for a bankurging students to save for college, and for an insurance company noting that better grades equal lower premium (“Schools open lockers,” 2010). One of the main reasons schools jump for advertising in general is for the previously mentionedincrease in budget. Many school board members will say that the advertising is good because it allows them to continue recess and P.E. programs. As this is true, it is possible to keep these active programs in the schools through the type of advertisingthat Coon Rapids- based School Media’s provides. 11
The Influence You CanMake PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING One of the most influential things you can do is inspire your local school board to make the switch to healthy advertising and marketing in your school district. You can start doing this by attending public school board meetings (Dowd, 2010, p. 35). Doing this shows your care and concern for your cause—as well as others’ causes—and for the students that your cause directly affects. 12
Your Audience PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING During your preparation it is vital that you consider your audience with every decision that you make. In the situation of promoting healthy advertising, the audience would be your local school board. These individuals play a very important role in the decisions that directly effect all children, K-12, in your district. The pressure put on these individuals to make the right decisions is quite high considering they are volunteers and are generally not education-centered professionals (Wiley & Howard-Barr, 2005, p. 7). 13
PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING …continued. There are different types of school board members. Wiley et al. (2005) published an article about these different types with the purpose of informing members of the community that may want to be successful while addressing board members (p. 7). The two types are less-effective members and effective members. In short, the less-effective members are fairly selfish and cannot see the whole picture when addressing a givenissue. On the other hand, effective members step back and obtain a more global perspective with each issue. They are able to “make thoughtful, deliberative decisions” (Wiley & Howard-Barr, 2005, p. 7). When presenting your case or cause to your school board, remember that some will be harder to sway than others. However, as mentioned before, these people are just like us, not administrative geniuses, and they are doing their best to get positive outcomes out of our children's education. Your Audience 14
PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING …continued. In 2010, Dowd quoted Bruce Buchanan in the association of School Boards Journal saying,: School board members have long held themselves accountable for making sure that students are learning. Now, all across the country, they are taking the lead in ensuring that the next generation is healthy and fit by advocating for policies and procedures that promote good nutrition, physical fitness, and overall healthy living. (p. 35) The irony comes in when Dowd points out that “Whether that statement is accurate or not, what is clear is that preventable diseases and lifestyle maladies are impacting America’s children and youth at alarming rates” (p. 35). The school board may have good intentions, but in many cases it is actually the education of the students that is more important to them than the actual health status of these young scholars. Your Audience 15
PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING Understand School Board Responsibilities Connect Health to Academics Remember the Golden Rule Provide Financial Solutions not Obstacles Strength in Numbers Be Persistent Stick to the Point Control your Passion Celebrate Small Victories Build Relationships (Jefferies, 2009, p. 35-37) 10 Steps for Effectively Advocating with School Boards 16
The school board has four identified responsibilities: Vision Structure Accountability Advocacy This is where you can play an important role since health is clearly not on their list. Advocating for positively influential advertising in schools may not directly improve grades, but as we have previously seen it does make a significant difference. It is your job to make this known. The health of all of these students, K-12, is important and can be improved if advocated correctly. There are many small, but influential, things you can do to help advocate this great cause. 1. Understand School Board Responsibilities PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING 17
2. Connect Health to Academics PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING Amongst the many positive outcomes from promoting healthy lifestyle in schools there is one that outshines the rest. Simply, healthy children get better grades.Jeffries (2009) states, “Students who miss school due to sickness will not achieve their potential. Students who do not feel well will be unable to concentrate” (p. 36). Research also shows that “severely overweight children and adolescents are four times more likely than their healthy-weight peers to report ‘impaired school functioning’” (Story et al., 2006, p. 110). “With the relationship between health status and academic achievement confirmed in scientific research, school boards may begin paying more attention to providing high quality health services and health instruction for students” (Wiley & Howard-Barr, 2005, p. 6). As school board members do just this, our children will become healthier because their environment will be designed to assist them in doing so. On top of keeping our kids healthy with lots of play time, fruits, veggies, and chewy Flintstone multivitamins, let us also push for a healthy environment in the classroom so that our kids can excel and learn like they deserve. 18
3. Remember the Golden Rule PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING 19
During the school board meeting is not the time to vent your frustrations through being rude, critical, or condescending.
A lot more will come from your efforts if you address the school board with the same respect that you want them to give your issue.
Keep in mind that the school board members are volunteers that are trying their best to benefit the children in your district.
4. Provide Financial Solutions not Obstacles PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING 20 Going to meetings, gaining supporters, and respecting the school board are all very important. However, we must remember that we are trying to convince the school board that switching from unhealthy to healthy advertising is significantly worthwhile. This takes months of preparation considering that the more unhealthy ads can bring up to $230,000 in extra revenue per year (Macedo, 2010). It is even harder when you have superintendants, like Paul Stremick, admitting, “I hate to say it’s all about the money, but it probably is” (“Schools open lockers,” 2010, p. 1). There are a few things to keep in mind before you go gung-ho over changing the world, one school board at a time. Next to getting past stubborn school board members, money is the next largest road block. Jeffries points out that “about 85% of the entire budget is already allocated to salaries. The remaining 15% has to cover everything else” (Jeffries, 2009, p. 36). So if you have any costly ideas, be aware that they areless likely to pass compared to ideas that have a compromise or funding plan involved. Remember, you are more likely to leave a school board meeting with success in hand if you propose win-win situations.
5. Strength In Numbers PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING 21 There are three things you should focus on before you attend the meeting in which your cause is addressed: recruit, recruit, and recruit! The more people you have supporting your cause, the more attention you will receive from the school board. You will want to join forces with parents, health professionals, and any citizen that is willing to fight for your case. Wiley and Howard-Barr (2005) provide a few helpful suggestions directed towards the “before the meeting” process (pp. 8-9). Before the meeting you should:
recruit one or two “health champions” on the school board
Don’t forget that, “A single school board member is powerless in changing school policies” (Jeffries, 2009, p. 35).
6. Be Persistent PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING 22 You don’t have to bring up your cause every time you go to a board meeting. Matter of fact, it is better to be willing to attend these meetings regularly. This shows the school board that you are committed and that you care about more than just your issue at hand. When you do start presenting your issue, after plenty of preparation and research of course, then it will probably take multiple attempts. School board members are busy with many issues and for them to remember your face and your issue is like trying to remember the names of every student in their district. So be persistent! It will prove more effective the more face time you have with the board. As your case is repetitively exposed you will notice the board becoming more familiar to you and what you are pushing for.
7. Stick to the Point PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING 23 The most important moment that can either promote or destroy your case is when you are actually presenting it to the school board. Keep these tips in mind while you are preparing your presentation (Wiley & Howard-Barr, 2005, pp. 8-9).
present a blend of data with discussion of the true community activity
strike a proper balance between statistics and the local situation
link the health status of students to improved academic performance
avoid threats or attempts to intimidate board members
8. Control your Passion PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING 24 “Passion and enthusiasm will undo you if not tempered with patience and respect” (Jefferies, 2009, p. 36). Having excessive passion for your issue will cloud your judgment and will prevent you from thinking clearly. Many times members of the community will jump to conclusions because of poor listening skills. Remember, if a board member asks questions, it does not mean he or she is opposed.
9. Celebrate Small Victories PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING 25 “If patience is a virtue, and you plan to advocate for change in schools, you should anticipate becoming one of the most virtuous individuals in your community” (Jefferies, 2009, p. 37). As previously mentioned, making a significant enough difference to see changes in your school district will take time, more than you may be expecting. Keep this in mind before you get too deep into the process or else you may set yourself up for disappointment. A good way to keep your patience-tank full is by taking note of any and all victories that you have throughout the process (Dowd 2010, p. 36). Doing this will keep your spirits high and will help you stay motivated.
10. Build Relationships PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING 26 Developing trust also takes a significant amount of time. Depending on your district, you may not have board meetings very often. Amongst all of the faces at these meetings it is hard for board members to remember everyone. However, through diligent attendance you can become known to these board members and eventually gain their trust. Another key to developing and maintaining a positive relationship with your local school board is taking the time to let them know that you appreciate their efforts. After the meeting:
make aware your willingness to help by serving on a committee or any other function that would help advance the cause
recognize when to step aside and allow the school district to [take over]
(Wiley & Howard-Barr, 2005, pp. 8-9)
The “Do’s” PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING Let’s review the things that you shoulddo as you approach the issue of healthy advertising in your school district.
Commit to attend regular board meetings (Jeffries, 2009, pp. 36-37)
Recruit large numbers of supporters (Jeffries, 2009, pp. 36-37)
Get support for your position (Jeffries, 2009, pp. 36-37)
Consider the whole child (Wiley & Howard-Barr, 2005, p. 8)
Dress in business attire, arrive early, and interact with community participants (Dowd, 2010, p. 36)
Sign up on the “public comment” roster for the meeting (Dowd, 2010, p. 36)
Bring hard copies of the message you plan to deliver (Dowd, 2010, p. 36)
Make your issue as clear as possible (Jeffries, 2009, pp. 36-37)
Propose win-win situations (Jeffries, 2009, pp. 36-37)
threats of attempts to intimidate board members (Wiley & Howard-Barr, 2005, p. 9)
Don’t “over kill” the issue (Wiley & Howard-Barr, 2005, p. 9)
Don’t walk out of meetings after your topic has been discussed. It is a poor way to demonstrate your overall concern for the education of student in your district (Jeffries, 2009, p. 36).
A Local Success Story PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING Provo City School District has shown significant improvements in the environment of their schools. Through talking with the district’s child nutrition program director, Jenilee McComb, I was informed about some of the many things that the district is doing to keep their students healthy. Not only are they keeping negative advertising out of their schools but they are implementing and trying new ideas in order to save money and still promote healthy living to their students (Adams, 2011). Recently they won the national “Best of State” award through United Fresh and ProActfor the 2010-2011 school year. With this award they received a large amount of funding and have been able to provide healthy food and activities for their students. This healthy food that they serve in their cafeterias is inspired by culinary experts and they have recently revised their menus to be healthier. To keep their students active they have determined “Move It!” to be this school year’s theme. They get their kids to “Move It!” by teaching them fun dances during their already healthy lunch time, as well as by giving out bikes, via raffle to their students, that they won in a contest. McComb’s role in all of this is to create and analyze menus and calendars to meet government guidelines. She then meets with the school board at least once a month to review her work. McCombs stated, “[the school board members are] very positive and supportive and wise... but strict with money”(McComb, J., personal communication, July 26, 2011). McCombs also mentioned that the parents and PTA been wonderful and very involved. 29
PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING As you can see, Provo City School District is doing an excellent job of creating a healthy environment for their students. Let us all become advocates of this healthy cause by helping other districts rise up to their potential and become more like the one in Provo, Utah. As we do this, our children will become healthier and will be able to fill their potential as future parents and leaders of our nation. 30
Works Cited PROMOTING POSITIVE ADVERTISING Adams, J. (2011, May 15). Maybe not just a yellow bus anymore. The Daily Universe. Daniels, S.R. (2006). The consequences of childhood overweight and obesity. Future of Children, 16(1), 47-67.Deurenberg P. & Mabel, Y. (1999).The assessment of obesity: methods for measuring body fat and global prevalence of obesity, 13(1), 1-11. Dowd, K. (2010, March/April). School board advocacy: ready, aim, inspire!. Strategies, 23(4), 35-36.Draper, N. (2010, October 18). Schools open lockers to advertising. Flegal, K.M., Carroll, M.D., Ogden, C.L., & Curtin L.R. (2010). Prevalence and Trends in Obesity Among US Adults, 303(3), 235-241. FORA.tv.(2008, April). Dr. Richard Carmona on the obesity epidemic [Video Podcast]. Retrieved from http://fora.tv/2008/04/02/Former_Surgeon_General_Dr__Richard_Carmona#Dr__Richard_Carmona_on_the_Obesity_Epidemic Hedley, A.A., Ogden, C.L., Johnson, C.L., Carroll, M.D., Curtin, L.R., & Flegal K.M. (2004, June 16). Prevalence of overweight and obesity among US children, adolescents, and adults, 1999-2002. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 291(23), 2847-2850.Jefferies, S. (2009, January/February). School boarding 101: winning friends and influencing people. Strategies, 22(3), 35-37.Macedo, D. (2010, September 27). Advocates debate using advertising in schools to raise funds in budget crisis. McComb, J. (2011, July 26). Telephone interview.Story, M., Kaphingst, K.M., & French, S. (2006). The role of schools in obesity prevention. The Future of Children, 16(1), 109-131.Wiley, D.C., & Howard-Barr, E.M. (2005). Advocacy to action: addressing coordinated school health program issues with school boards. Journal of School Health, 75(1), 6-11. 31