Frequently Asked Questions
- What is I Sing the Body Electric?
- Who may get involved?
- Do you have a site where students’ work can be viewed?
- How do you get your data?
- How can I get a copy of your survey results?
- Where did the name come from?
- How are the art projects chosen?
- Who funds the coalition?
- Do all schools in the region participate?
- Can any community group/organization request the use of Body Electric displays - and how do they go about making the request?
- How can I set up a tour?
- How did Body Electric get started?
- What is the Body Electric Coalition Vision & Mission?
- How does the coalition work?
- What does a Health Center CEO/President say about Body Electric?
- What does the Regional Superintendent say about Body Electric?
- What do Principals say about Body Electric?
- What does a National Grants Manager say about Body Electric?
- What does a University Dean say about Body Electric?
- What does a State Director say about Body Electric?
- What do Students say about Body Electric?
- What do Teachers say about Body Electric?
- What do College-age mentors say about Body Electric?
- What do the arts festival judges say about Body Electric?
- Has Body Electric won any awards?
- Is Body Electric a model program?
- What is the science behind Body Electric?
- Has Body Electric been evaluated?
- Has anything been published about Body Electric in a peer-reviewed journal?
What is I Sing the Body Electric?
I Sing the Body Electric is a coalition organized around a central focus to create an environment for youth to explore health issues and community healthy lifestyle choices to their peers and their communities. The Body Electric coalition is made up of organizations and individuals representing youth, parents, the business community, media, educators, youth-serving organizations, law enforcement, the faith community, civic groups, healthcare professionals and prevention professionals. The focus is on teens in seven counties in East-Central Illinois who serve their peers, parents and communities by participating in arts and prevention activities to communicate the art of healthy choices. Coalition organizational members include Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, the Regional Office of Education (Clark, Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Moultrie and Shelby counties in East-Central Illinois), Eastern Illinois University, Lake Land College, Paris Community Hospital and PBS affiliate WEIU-TV.
Back to top
Who may get involved?
Local Teens & Schools: In the 7-county region, call I Sing the Body Electric, toll free 1-888-550-7464 and we’ll get started!
Eastern Illinois University Students: Call Body Electric to find out about internships and graduate assistantships 348-4570
Arts Volunteers: Call I Sing the Body Electric, toll free 1-888-550-7464 to be placed as a mentor
Local Clubs, Businesses and Organizations: If you would like to be a part of the regional coalition, call I Sing the Body Electric, toll free 1-888-550-7464
State and National Participation: Readiness to become a Body Electric coalition includes 1) the ability to access local health risk data of teens or adolescents; 2) a support system that can be trained to deliver an extracurricular arts and prevention program in area schools; 3) participation of area organizations who have the Schools can be involved in the biennial Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Call us to talk about replicating in your region: (217) 348-4570
Do you have a site where students’ work can be viewed?
Yes -- you’re on it! Go to the menu at right and click on “Student Art” -- we are gradually loading all student projects but are not quite done, so if you don’t see your project, call us or re-visit us in the next few weeks.
Back to top
How do you get your data?
The coalition has chosen to collect date in the region on a biennial calendar since 1998. The nucleus of the survey tool is the Center for Disease Control Youth Risk Behavior Survey with addition questions added to meet local needs. The coalition presents its human subjects research protocol to the Sarah Bush Ethics committee for approval. The Body Electric staff is trained by the Director to administer the survey. Superintendents and Principals in the region invite Body Electric to administer the survey in their schools. Confidential principal reports are compiled by Eastern Illinois University Testing and Assessment, and delivered to principals in the region. The aggregate report is analyzed and a narrative is written for distribution throughout the region. County data is also compiled from high schools in each county. All public data is available on this site -- j Just click on “Survey Data” and you will see the narrative file as well as the aggregate “All Schools” and individual county reports. All data is made public for use in improving the health status of teens and adolescents in the region.
Back to top
How can I get a copy of your survey results?
The most recent results are available on this site. Just click on “Survey Data” and you will see the narrative file as well as the aggregate “All Schools” and individual county data.
Back to top
Where did the name come from?
"I Sing the Body Electric" was a poem written by Walt Whitman that can be found in his “Leaves of Grass” poetry collection. It speaks to the wonders of the human body. More recently, Ray Bradbury wrote a short story with the same title. And Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford, who created the musical “Fame,” wrote a song titled "I Sing the Body Electric." “Fame” which was, appropriately, set in a high school of the arts.
Back to top
How are the art projects chosen?
We have a biennial Arts and Health Festival where teens’ projects are views, read or heard. A panel of local judges critiques them and they are included in the Arts & Health Tour collection through purchase awards given to the teen artists, musicians, actors and writers.
Back to top
Who funds the coalition?
Funding of Body Electric is diverse, combining national and state grants, local foundation funds, private donations and organizational in-kind support. To find out more about supporting the Body Electric efforts, contact Kim Uphoff, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Foundation Vice President, (217) 258-2511.
Back to top
Do all schools in the region participate?
All schools in the region are invited to participate. We make the program available to all high schools for the project production phase and to all schools for the tour phase. Our goal is to have 100% of our schools involved so that all students in the region can benefit from the rich educational experiences we offer. For a list of participating schools, call our office toll free 1-888-550-7464.
Back to top
Can any community group/organization request the use of Body Electric displays? How do they go about making the request?
Yes! We have several ways to deliver our youths’ health communication arts projects to the community.
Schools in the service region may request a one or two day tour which includes setting up an art gallery area, creative writing reading-rug, and TV for music and performance videos.
Businesses can become part of our revolving art gallery of framed, representative student work. This program is called “Changing Arts, Changing Hearts.” Parents are welcome to call the Body Electric office for education materials. The phone #: toll free 888-550-7464
Outside the region, we can bring the tour, teacher training, coalition readiness workshops and other services to you. Call our office: (217 348-4570.
Back to top
How can I set up a tour?
Just call the Body Electric office to set up a tour. The tour season is during the school year but presentations and small tour events can accommodate most community organizations as well. In addition, we have a program called “Changing Arts, Changing Hearts” that provides framed work for display in high visibility areas like waiting rooms, foyers, offices, etc.
Back to top
How did Body Electric get started?
I Sing the Body Electric began in 1996 in East-Central Illinois, as a collaborative effort to improve morbidity and mortality rates (as established by the CDC- Centers for Disease Control) among teens through a research-based program that combines the arts and prevention. Led by the Regional Office of Education (ROE) and Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center (SBLHC), others joined the coalition which now includes Eastern Illinois University (EIU), Lake Land College, Paris Community Hospital, and public television affiliate WEIU-TV. In addition to organizational partners, the coalition is also made up of employees of Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center who annually support Body Electric efforts though a fundraiser. Community members involved in improving the health and lives of youth are also members of the coalition.
successful prevention programs for youth, Body Electric is based in
sound prevention principles and emphasizes interactivity. However,
unlike other model programs, Body Electric is a blueprint for engaging a
coalition to help youth create effective tools for health
communication. The coalition model focuses on making efficient use of
resources and commitment of diverse organizations to create a healthier
Back to top
What is the Body Electric Coalition Vision & Mission?
Our vision: We know that young people want to be respected for their abilities and ideas. I Sing the Body Electric sees each person as an actor or artist, musician or writer -- creating healthy messages for each other.
The coalition mission is to provide a supportive
framework to nurture resiliency, reduce risk behaviors, and build
leadership in youth as they investigate and communicate healthy
lifestyle choices to each other, and to the larger community, through
Back to top
How does the coalition work?
Body Electric challenges youth to use art, music, creative writing and dramatics to talk to their peers and parents. Coalition activity begins with appraising teen risk behaviors through a biennial survey in high schools (sharing this data with principals and community health organizations has become an integral part of local and regional planning and program development).
The coalition strives for inclusiveness in its appeal to youth, reaching underserved and at-risk youth and, in a predominantly rural region, offers enrichment experiences at schools suffering from declining arts funding. Principals invite Body Electric to present kick-off events to generate enthusiasm for the program. Teens take a pre-test to determine baseline knowledge of health issues and leadership skills. Training follows during weekly small-group sessions conducted by well-trained university interns using specially developed Body Electric curriculum. During this time, teens are guided to investigate a local data-revealed teen health issue, identify their target group, develop a prevention message and choose the best art form to deliver the message. They submit mini-grant plans and are given funds and support to research, develop and complete their projects which are presented in the spring at an arts and health festival, and taken on tour to schools the following fall (46,136 people have seen the tour). The local PBS station broadcasts, featuring the teens and their projects, reach an even larger audience throughout central Illinois (three programs were broadcast in 2005-06).
student projects are the focus of lesson plans, aligned with the state
learning standards that are distributed to middle and high schools in
the region. In addition, the dean of the college of arts and humanities
at EIU has identified Body Electric as a potential model for use in
teacher training programs, engaging future teachers in practical
applications of the arts. Plans are being developed to present the model
to deans at other universities throughout the Midwest.
Back to top
What does a Health Center CEO/President say about Body Electric?
Design Model for Local Coalition Development On a systems level, the Body Electric Coalition and governance design has been used as a model for other collaborative projects in the region. CEO of Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, Gary Barnett, wrote the following:
Our positive experience with the I Sing the Body Electric collaboration
prompted Sarah Bush Lincoln to undertake a women's health and children's
initiative with 20 partners and to assist in the formation of the East
Central Illinois Rural Health Network. We are currently exploring a
partnership between our Behavioral Health Center and the area county
mental health centers. [Last week] the Board of Directors chose to move
from a mission calling for an "integrated healthcare delivery system" to
one that vowed to "improve the health status of the people of east
central Illinois.” I Sing the Body Electric was a key factor in the
Back to top
What does the Regional Superintendent say about Body Electric?
Body Electric builds resiliency by empowering teens with knowledge and resources to become change agents in their communities, and engages a community coalition as the sustaining force in long-term change. As an education administrator, this is what Supt. John McNary has to say about Body Electric:
In a rural area with limited financial and
human resources, collaboration among groups is essential. I Sing the
Body Electric has provided a wonderful system of support for a wide
range of students through the use of the arts as a medium of delivery.
Our educators have embraced the program because it provides valuable
support and enrichment to students. Body Electric has also provided
exposure for the Regional Office that goes beyond the traditional
education relationships and has added a new dimension and definition to
service delivery to the educational community.
Back to top
What do Principals say about Body Electric?
Principals of the alternative high schools served by Body Electric are in agreement that Body Electric makes a dramatic difference in youth participants by providing meaningful activity and caring relationships: Pathways serves students 16-21 who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out of high school. Those students involved [in Body Electric] have shown a marked improvement in attendance and have spoken of feeling better about themselves and more competent in their abilities. Some of these students have said that for the first time, they feel like their voices have been heard. - Althea Pendergast, Director, Pathways and GED program
Bridges is a Regional Safe School Program. The
students who attend this program are those who have been disruptive in
the regular school resulting in multiple suspensions or eligibility for
expulsion. I have observed our students working on Body Electric
projects. The students demonstrate a high level of pride in their
accomplishment. The arts projects opens up new doors of interest for
them and their classmates. Body Electric contributes to our efforts to
provide an interesting, comprehensive, and integrated curriculum to our
at-risk population of students. - Bobbi Mattingly, PhD, ROE Youth Services Administrator
Back to top
What does a National Grants Manager say about Body Electric?
Body Electric has received support, since 1996, from national, state and local funding sources. Since 1999, the Drug-Free Communities program has supported Body Electric:
Body Electric has been such a
beacon of light for the youth in Illinois. Your program is definitely a
model that should be replicated across the country. Thank you for your
hard work. It's your kind of leadership and commitment that makes the
Drug Free Communities Support Program work. -- Gwendolyn Williams, Dept. of Justice Drug-Free Communities Grant Program Manager, Washington DC, Feb. 4, 2005
Back to top
What does a University Dean say about Body Electric?
In his support of the Coming Up Taller award (received by Body Electric in 2006), the Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Eastern Illinois University wrote, in part: Since its conception in 1996, [Body Electric] has emphasized the importance of the Fine Arts in our community and how they can serve as a vehicle for positive communication. [Body Electric] has provided an opportunity for students, not normally involved in traditional high school activities, to have a voice through the arts that impacts upon their peers in a positive way, especially for those at risk. These students under the guidance of graduate and undergraduate interns form Eastern Illinois University have developed leadership and communication skills that have greatly enhanced their sense of self worth and identity as individuals with unique talents and abilities.
Under the highly effective leadership of Ms Gaye Harrison, the program has brought together a unique coalition of organizations, agencies and individuals committed to the betterment of teen and community health. Its success is widely recognized and strongly supported by students, teachers, and community leaders. As the Dean of the college of Arts and humanities, I have seen the positive impact the program has had upon changing the behavior patterns of students at risk and the unique educational opportunities it has provided our undergraduate and graduate students.
It is a model of success of how the Fine Arts can be used to shape and change the attitudes and lifestyle of today’s teenagers toward the use of alcohol consumption, drunk driving, drug use and sexual activity. I strongly encourage you to give full consideration to acknowledging I Sing the Body Electric as on the nation’s most outstanding community based Fine Arts programs.
James Johnson, Dean
College of Arts and Humanities
Eastern Illinois University
Back to top
As Director of the Division of Community Health and Prevention, and having worked in prevention throughout my career, I am pleased to recommend the Body Electric program for this year’s Coming Up Taller Award. Body Electric is a shining star in Illinois and a wonderful example of a community program that vividly demonstrates the life that the arts can breathe into prevention programs.
With a solid foundation in prevention basics combined with the freedom and exploration that the arts provide, Body Electric offers multiple growth opportunities to a portion of our state’s underserved youth. I have walked through just one of the gallery settings of the Body Electric’s teen projects. Viewing these projects and the lesson plans crafted for youth leaders and the education community, I can honestly say that the Body Electric’s program is what prevention should be - vibrant, in touch, and accessible. It creates opportunities that increase protective factors in youth while educating the community in the comprehensive, environmental approach.
Body Electric consistently demonstrates its effectiveness in helping youth choose, and advocate for, healthy lifestyles. The methodology is firmly rooted in research on the efficacy of arts experiences in youth development that help to decrease risk behaviors. This program is one of the strongest examples I have seen of the impact of integrating the arts with prevention. The Body Electric project represents a true hybrid in both the world of art and the discipline of prevention: those who come in search of a prevention message are astounded by the art present in their exhibits, and those who come looking for art are profoundly transformed by the genius of these young artists’ abilities to convey pro-social messages to their viewers.
Illinois is a diverse state, with urban centers and wide-ranging rural communities. Delivering prevention programs to our rural citizens has long been fraught with challenges. Body Electric has effectively overcome program delivery challenges and lack of mass transportation by collaborating with regional organizations partners who firmly support the program design.
Interns and graduate assistants gain unique field experiences while receiving tuition waivers from the college. Teens gain a sense of hope and possibility through extended, meaningful relationships that are built by university-age mentors. High school principals benefit from short-term turnarounds of survey results which are done biennially. The community benefits by having a focus on the health status of their younger citizens. This data information is extremely important to all agencies that work with rural populations and is widely distributed to public health departments, state agencies and prevention coalitions.
The Illinois Department of Human Services has supported Body Electric with comprehensive prevention programming grants since 1998, and continues to provide ongoing support, training and technical assistance to its staff. At my recommendation, Body Electric submitted their application for the Coming Up Taller Award. I strongly encourage you to consider this worthy and unique program as a wonderful example of the arts empowering youth to make a difference in their own lives and the life of their community.
Sincerely, Steven Guerra,
Illinois Department of Human Services
Back to top
What do Students say about Body Electric?
Following their participation in creating an arts project on a prevention theme, each student, teacher, university mentor and judge was asked to evaluate their experience as a participant and provide personal comments as well as process evaluation.
In the 2005 production year, 98% of students said they were proud of what they accomplished and 100% of teachers said that Body Electric is an effective program. Of those who experienced the tour, 93% of students and 90% of teachers said that participating in the arts tour increased their understanding of health risks. Almost all (97% of students. 100% of teachers) believe that the Body Electric arts tour is a good way to convey prevention messages to youth, adults, and the public. In addition, 97% of students and 100% of teachers said they felt comfortable talking to others about subjects in the tour.
ARTS & PREVENTION PROJECT PRODUCTION STUDENT COMMENTS
“I enjoyed Working with the Body Electric staff and using my vocal talent to make people realize the choices they make don't just affect them."- Casey Hammond - Arthur HS
"The Body Electric program made me realize what an impact that my poetry could have on other people's lives. I hope people really absorb and understand what we are trying to accomplish through this project."-Jill Tucker-Cumberland
"Making our statements about these topics through artistic and theatrical performances is fun and informing towards others. Body Electric is great!"-Rachel Eversole-Tower Hill
I like contributing what I have to say towards other teens. I would like to participate more next year. - Callie Sailors: Kansas TLC (Callie went on to be a student intern the following production year, 2004-05
“This program gives great opportunities for young people to express their talents and to send a message to other young people about making healthy life choices. Starla Gaines – Tuscola H.S.
“It (I Sing the Body Electric) is a really good program where you can gain knowledge about the world around you. I mean, kids look at health class and say, "Oh, we know about drugs. We know about teen sexuality and we know what alcohol does to you." But when you're actually doing a project, you're forced to learn more about the subject and it's good to gain knowledge on that.” - Nikki Butler (Oakland High School student participant)
“I did my project on anorexia called My Image. It is really hard to deal with my anorexia. Thanks to my teachers and family I have been fighting it for over 4 months now, very slowly making progress. This project opened my eyes more on how I need to try harder, not only for myself but for the people around me that care. Thanks for the opportunity to show my skills and express myself. Hopefully it will reach other kids as well.” Danielle Robling – Lovington H.S.
able to write a monologue and then perform it made me have so much more
confidence in myself that I can now spread the message to make healthy
decisions.” Corrie Maxwell - Martinsville
Back to top
I was proud of their (my students’) accomplishments. . . . and most of all the kids themselves were proud of their accomplishments. For four of our students, their successful completion of their projects appears to be the most meaningful curricular achievement they have ever experienced. The Body Electric program played a large role in changing one of our student’s self-perception in a very positive manner. Our school has an exceptionally difficult population of exceptional children (BD/ED) and the interns worked hard to “connect” with them and were highly successful in doing so. The interns were wonderful – warm, caring and talented.
This terrific program is a reflection of the gifted, innovative and personally invested people who administer Body Electric. Even in times of deadlines, multiple problem shooting issues and other crises, the Body Electric administrators are positive, supportive sources of assistance and encouragement. TOP FLIGHT! - Steve Allen - Kansas TLC (learning and treatment center)
They've heard the same issues over and over and they've heard the same statistics over and over since they've been in fifth and sixth grade and even junior high. I think that being able to delve into a project and do research into a project and actually come up with original material hits home more and makes them more interested. - Sally Hooten, Windsor High School, Family & Consumer Science teacher
I Sing the Body Electric has been involved in our health curriculum here at the Charleston Middle School for the past six years. Our students have rated your program as the most influential part of our health curriculum. I feel the same way and am especially impressed by the organization and professionalism demonstrated by the I Sing the Body Electric administration and staff. - Randy Harpster, Charleston Middle School
Teacher Training Feedback . . .
The information given today was insightful. This generated excitement to inform our entire middle school and to gear up our 8th graders for projects to do for their freshman year. - Denise Shuck, Central A & M Middle School
Very exciting and informative! I am looking forward to having the program come to our school. - Carol Bressner, Central A & M Middle School
Someone put an incredible amount of work into the learning standards section! - Laurie Hooker, Mattoon Bridges
Back to top
I always told them (my students) how proud I am of them and how could I not? Heart, soul and time went into these projects and as the projects grew to completion, the maturity and passion unfolded in each of them. I think that even the more negative incidences turned into positive learning experiences for the kids. When Nick Shedosky [teen musician who had a meth problem and is recovering] finished his time in front of the camera and I asked him, “So, I bet this is a whole different high than what you were singing about, eh?” -- his answer was, “This is the best high I’ve had yet.” It was clear that these kids were getting something valuable that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. For this reason, I believe it is effective. While it won’t grab every student like it grabbed Nick, they all will walk away with something. - Courtney Crane, intern
I went to a smaller high school similar to the ones that we're working with and I know I didn't have a lot of opportunities to participate in programs like this. I was more on the outskirts of the social class in high school and so I think it (Body Electric) gives students like that -- not just jocks, not just the cheer leaders, the more active students in the schools but the kids who aren't always involved, who don't always feel they have a place in the school -- it give them a chance to participate in something that develops self-confidence and leadership skills that enables them to feel more confident about themselves. -- John Dowd, Grad Assistant
my employment at I Sing the Body Electric, I have encountered hundreds
of students, both inquisitive and apathetic. Once the students realize
how close the staff members are to their own ages, apathy turns into
curiosity, and the students begin to open up. During the production
year especially, students realize their opportunity to do something
positive and feel truly empowered. Due to its unique design, I Sing
the Body Electric makes the most initially apathetic student ask, "When
will you be back?" - Jennifer Lackney Strockbine
Back to top
JUDGING COMMENTS – 2005
Arts project quality indicators are measured by evaluations of judges who view or read student arts-prevention projects and provide feedback at the biennial festivals. Students are made aware, before they begin working on their project, of the ten areas making up the judging criteria. Along with guidelines for best practices in prevention, the judging criteria also list areas that appraise the effectiveness of the arts media choice and execution. These points include appropriateness of materials for the target audience, creativity, tourability, inventiveness and expression. An average of thirty-five judges have participated each year (1999, 2001, 2003, 2005). The following are selected 2005 quotes from among hundreds that have been written at each of the five festivals:
I was very impressed with both the quality of the work and that of the artist statements. A very sensitive, thoughtful group of young people. - Max Jaeger, Retired teacher, Exchange Club President
This is an incredible program for our
surrounding communities. We must be educated about real issues in
students’ lives. I work with teens full time and am available for
anything. Maybe a parent/student luncheon at my church. - Travis
Spencer, Teen Pastor
Back to top
Has Body Electric won any awards?
Body Electric has been cited for innovation and collaboration by the Illinois Principals Association, the CDC and Directors of Public Health Promotion and Education, the Illinois Department of Human Services, the Illinois Drug Education Alliance, the State Board of Education; and was named as a national “Coming Up Taller” semi-finalist by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Most recently, Body Electric was chosen to represent Illinois for the American Association of School Administrators Civic Star Award, presented in March, 2007.
Back to top
Is Body Electric a model program?
Presently, the coalition is engaged in capacity-building work through a grant from the Lumpkin Family Foundation to establish the next phase of growth. One area of inquiry will be the feasibility of providing the coalition design on a large scale. Evaluation, publishing, awards and replication have all been successfully attained.
The program has
been replicated successfully in two populations. An on-going program
evaluation study, begun in 2001, has established Body Electric’s success
in making quantifiable improvements in school engagement (27 percent of
participants report that Body Electric is their only extra-curricular
activity); improved attitudes against risk behaviors, an increased
ability to resist peer pressure, and a positive perception of self as a
teacher or helper of others.
Back to top
Arts & Resiliency For rural youth, school attachment can be a significant protective factor. Arts programs, like Body Electric, are designed to attract and hold youth by challenging them and enriching their school experience. But more than being extracurricular, engagement in the arts “offer(s) an alternative for success and respectability for students who struggle academically...the discipline these students learn through the arts often carries over to their study of other academic subjects.” (William Cleveland, Center of the Study of Art and Community).
The I Sing the Body Electric coalition’s prevention philosophy is founded on the efficacy of using creative arts and peer influence to foster resiliency in youth. (Creative arts programs can be an effective prevention tool. Center for Substance Abuse, 1996; Harding et al., 1996; Safer & Harding, 1993.) This strategy was selected because the coalition strongly agreed with the concept of arts as a tool of prevention. As stated by J. David Betts and Juan Paz in Art Works!, an interagency publication of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, "(t)he integration of arts programs and substance abuse prevention programs is natural. Both focus on the development of positive skills, life skills, good decision-making and resiliency. Both require the development of self-regulation and self-assessment." Protective factors inherent in arts-based prevention programs like Body Electric, include (per B. Benard, Art Works!, 1997): providing meaningful activity (creating arts projects that express positive health messages) - (ownership, responsibility, giving back, Fox, 1991); supporting caring relationships (with mentors and university-age students) - (Werner /Smith, 1992); creating high expectations for success (teens treated as working artists, musicians, writers, actors) (“a delicate balance between flexibility and structure,” Burke, Coming Up Taller, 1996;)
Fostering Child and Youth Development - Risk and Protective Factors
The Body Electric coalition serves the largest education region in the state of Illinois (3,419 sq. mi.) and is predominantly rural. Rural youth have a unique set of challenges and risks that are directly related to isolation: lack of recreation opportunities, no mass transportation, minimal or no access to local health care. Their sense of futurity is also stunted when it comes to pursuit of higher education (fewer rural teens apply to college than their suburban and urban peers -- Loveless, Brookings Institute, 2003).
In addition to the
rural environment, our youth have all the added risks associated with
alcohol and other drugs. Since 1998, the Body Electric Coalition has
conducted a regional survey of high school students using the Centers
for Disease Control Youth Risk Behavior Survey (CDC-YRBS), augmented
with questions from Monitoring the Future as well as program specific
inquiries. The total public high school population of the region is
7,284 (SY 2005-06) students. We have surveyed at least 55% and as many
as 66% (in 2006) of this population, providing a wealth of information
on the health status of youth in East-Central Illinois. The following
factors impact the health of our youth: early initiation of alcohol,
tobacco and other drug (ATOD) use, frequency of use and availability,
misperception of harm and peer use of ATOD; and low community awareness
and cohesion around ATOD issues that focus on social disapproval of risk
behaviors among youth and adults.
Back to top
Yes! In 2001, the Body Electric Coalition contracted with an evaluation team to conduct a study exploring the effect the program has on the attitudes of youth participants working with interns in the project production phase. The results of the study show that students’ positive health attitudes were strengthened through participation in the program. Strengthening of attitudes is important because it makes students more resistant to peer pressure and negative health messages and is a precursor to behavioral change. Using a pre-test/ post-test control group design, the investigators found that student attitudes were strengthened in three areas: alcohol, drugs, and peer mentoring.
Student attitudes on drinking behavior were significantly strengthened:
- Students that have a history of engaging in risk drinking behavior reported a 15% stronger negative attitude toward the risk behavior after participation in the program (t=5.56, df=266, P>.000)
- Participants specifically reported a 14% shift toward a more negative view of drinking (t=6.08, df=265, P>.000) and a 15% shift toward a more negative attitude toward drinking and driving (t=5.56, df=266, P>.000).
- They reported they were in a better position to resist peer pressure to drink (t=2.08, df=175, p>.039).
- Students also reported a 15% strengthening of the belief that, after researching and producing a prevention project, they can stop a friend who is drinking from driving a vehicle to prevent a drunk driving accident (t=2.08, df=175, P>.039).
Student attitudes toward avoidance of other drugs were also strengthened:
- Students specifically reported a 61% strengthening of negative attitudes toward getting high (t=6.41, df=266, P>.000)
- Students experienced a 15% shift to viewing drug use as unfavorable (t=5.42, df=179, P>.000) , and a 40.5% shift toward viewing drug use as bad (t=6.55, df=233, P>.000).
- Of particular note is that students developed a more realistic perception of peer use of ecstasy. Students reported a 20% decrease in the perception of peer use of ecstasy (t=-2.15, df=135, P>.033).
Student participation in the study improved mentoring and peer leadership skills:
- Students reported a 16% increase in thinking of themselves as a teacher or helper of others (t=7.14, df=264, P>.000).
- Students also reported a 15.9% shift toward being more open-minded to other people's ideas (t=2.24, df=266, P>.026) and a 14% strengthening of the value of setting a good example for other young people (t=2.02, df=266, P>.045).
- As a result of the program, students also reported they were more comfortable in speaking for their group (12% shift, t=2.06, df=175, p>.041) and being honest without hurting others feelings (14.6% shift, t=2.60, df=156, p > .01). These skills are important in developing students who can serve as role models for healthy lifestyle choices.
(End of evaluation overview) Source: Body Electric Impact Evaluation Study, unpublished preliminary data, Borzi, Phillips, Dietz, 2003.
Back to top
Has anything been published about Body Electric in a peer-reviewed journal?
Yes. Title: I Sing the Body Electric: Description of an Innovative Health Promotion and Fine Arts Program for Adolescents Kathleen Phillips, PhD 1; Julie Dietz, PhD1; Mark Borzi, PhD2; Gaye Harrison, MA
This was the first of a series of articles by the evaluation team. It was submitted to The International Electronic Journal of Health Education www.aahperd.org/iejhe/template.cfm?template=2006.cfm - 12k on February 24, 2006; revised and accepted August 5, 2006
We include the abstract of the journal article here:
Abstract I Sing the Body Electric (BODY ELECTRIC) is a fine arts and health promotion program that supports communication of healthy lifestyle choices among youth. BODY ELECTRIC connects youth in 27 high schools with health and education communities in the largest rural geographic education region in a midwestern state. The three-phase prevention plan designed to increase resiliency and reduce risk behaviors among adolescents begins with biennial regional administration of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, with added questions designed to identifying the top health concerns of area youth. In the second phase, these health concerns are crafted into prevention messages by youth, using the arts as a medium of expression. University interns, local artists, and community health and prevention professionals mentor the students with their project ideas. On completion, students present their work at the biennial BODY ELECTRIC Arts and Health Festival. A comprehensive media plan forms the third phase of the program, featuring a prevention communication network of original broadcast programming that links student messages to a wider community. A region-wide tour of the arts/prevention project collection is delivered to schools and communities in the area providing another venue for the student-produced arts and health messages. Preliminary evaluation data were included to show the success of the program. Key Words: Adolescents, Fine Arts, Health, Health Promotion, Prevention
Kathleen Phillips, PhD, Department of Health Studies at Eastern Illinois University Julie
Dietz, PhD, Department of Health Studies at Eastern Illinois University
Mark Borzi, PhD., Speech Communication Studies Department at Eastern Illinois University
Gaye Harrison, MA, Director, I Sing the Body Electric
I Sing the Body Electric • 105 Professional Plaza • Mattoon, IL 61938 • (217) 348-4570