It's never too early to start a career in health journalism. At least, that's what those at Healthy NewsWorks are trying to convey to kids who have an interest in health, wellness and reporting.
For the past 10 years, the next generation of health journalists have been sharpening their writing, research and interview skills as part of the Healthy NewsWorks program (no relation to NewsWorks). The program trains elementary and middle school students to report on health and wellness in communities across the region, publishing newspapers throughout the year and compiling a book of interviews with health care leaders annually.
Marian Uhlman, a former reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, co-founded Healthy NewsWorks in 2003 and has watched the program expand to more than a dozen schools in the Philadelphia region.
At Cole Manor Elementary in Norristown, a group of 15 third and fourth grade journalists from the school's Healthy Comet newspaper interviewed physical therapist Carolyn Tassini and her service dog Seamus, who work at Moss Rehab's Drucker Brain Injury Center. The young reporters behaved like professionals, taking notes on their clipboards with sharpened pencils flying across the paper.
Nine-year-old Kayla Sparks has been a journalist for the Healthy Comet for the last two years working on both the newspaper and the yearly book of interviews with health care leaders. Sparks says she's proud that her work is making a positive impact on her school and community.
"It makes me feel really happy that they actually enjoyed what I wrote," said Sparks.