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FY 2018 Community Conversations Research

Executive Summary

Chambers County, Alabama has experienced persistent poverty, rising unemployment, and the inability to attract and retain young people into the community. Population estimates are 33,713; with an estimated 20% of persons in poverty (United States Census Bureau, 2017). Additionally, there is marked concern about population decline estimate of 4.6% by the year 2040. Lafayette High School was recently listed as a failing school as defined by the Alabama Accountability Act of 2015--schools in the lowest 6% of schools, January 2017. The action of tackling the issue of preparing youth for physical fitness to work or service oriented career placements post- graduation lies in better understanding, design, and implementation of a hybrid approach to community development and health disparities. The research objectives are: (a) to conduct formative research using the School Health Index (SHI) and stakeholder feedback to assess physical education and physical activity programs among high school students in Chambers County School System, Alabama. The School Health Index (SHI) is a self- assessment that will (a) identify strengths and weaknesses of two high schools in Chambers County, Lafayette (LHS) and Valley High School's (VHS), examining policies and programs for physical education and physical activity programs and perceptions of community involvement, and provide a structured means to develop an action plan for improving high school student health and fitness to serve or work. The relevancy of this objective to a society in social crisis aligns with fitness to work or serve, thus affecting employment numbers and a readiness of individuals; and (b) to develop a multifaceted skill-building intervention for school teachers, school nurse(s), and administrators that incorporates the perspective and feedback from SHI assessment results. Our involvement would be to assist with the development of the action plan, and leverage resources to supplement fitness-related activities of interest to the high school students to reinforce the importance of physical activity to preparation in supporting their post-graduation goals to serve or work. Purposeful evaluation using recent community forum feedback combined with a more focused approach to the identified issue of "attracting and retaining young people so the graduates will stay instead of leaving" and "something for youth to do to be fit to serve or work" accomplishes better sharing and translation of information across disciplines and stakeholders.

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