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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University March 15, 2004 | Vol. 33 No. 26
School of Public Health Challenges Its Own to Improve Quality of Life

By Kenna L. Brigham
School of Public Health

Good health often starts with healthy behaviors. In December, Alfred Sommer, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Behavior and Health Planning Committee challenged faculty, staff and students to come up with the most practical ways to change the behavior of the school community. The winners of the Behavior and Health Challenge were announced last week.

Vicki Hong-Smith, an English instructor in the Career Services Office, won in the "Most de Rigueur: Essential Environmental Enhancement" category for her suggestion of providing more nourishing vending machine selections. For the "Most Happening: Making Hopkins Hip" category, Mary Ann Dunevant, a program coordinator in the Department of Health Policy and Management, proposed that the ambiance of the stairwells be improved by adding current movie and restaurant reviews.

With her idea of an online health management program that would assess users' personal risk and provide tailored feedback, Pauline Lapin, a graduate student in the Department of Health Policy and Management, won in the "Most Hopkins-Like: High-Tech, With a Potential for Grant Funding and Good Sound Bites."

In the final category, "Most Participatory: Appoint a Committee to Deal With It," Hanan Jaber Aboumatar, a graduate student in the Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, won for her suggestion to establish a health council to develop a multilevel plan for creating a culture of health at the school.

Each category winner received a gift certificate to a local restaurant. Honorable mentions were also awarded to nine other participants. The judges were Jane Trowbridge Bertrand, director of the Center for Communication Programs; and Margaret Ensminger and Andrea Gielen, both with the Department of Health Policy and Management.

In May 2003, the school established the Department of Behavior and Health to develop new ways to prevent unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, sedentary lifestyle and diet-caused obesity; avoidable injuries; and substance abuse. These behaviors are associated with the leading causes of illness and premature death in the United States and other parts of the world.

The Behavior and Health Challenge is one of many events and activities being held at the School of Public Health. The next Behavior and Health Seminar, scheduled for April 12, is "Downsizing America: The Obesity Epidemic." It is the fifth of six planned symposia.


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