Peter Balvanz is a recent graduate from the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education (HBHE) at the Gillings School of Global Public Health.
A group of youth from Caswell County and UNC public health students Leilani Ogan, Jeff Quinn, and Peter Balvanz recently presented collaborative research at venues on the UNC campus and in Caswell County. The two groups had been using photovoice as a methodology for youth to explore what keeps them healthy and what gets in the way through photographs and discussions. The presentation at UNC occurred on April 28 during the HBHE capstone celebration day during which students, faculty, and members from the community listened to student work taking place over the past school year. As the youth were viewed as integral co-researchers in the community-based participatory research modality, they were invited and received permission to assist with the presentation.
Youth co-presenters were in for a full day. In addition to helping present research findings, the trip provided them an opportunity to go on a campus tour, receive information on college, learn more about the field of public health, and how their assistance in the photovoice project could be used to influence the health of their own community and others alike. Youth from Caswell County had an early departure to arrive in Chapel Hill for the 9:15 am presentation. Six youth took the stage with public health students to present findings from the project and interact with audience members through a question and answer session. Post-presentation the group of participants met with representatives from the HBHE department and the Office of Student Affairs to learn about college programs before taking a campus tour. In addition to visiting class rooms, dorms, and dining halls, participants also ran into Tyler Zeller and received the requisite autograph. The day concluded with a celebratory lunch at Top of the Hill. A few of the girls were daring enough during the lunch to sample calamari and fried pickles.
Public health students working on this study were invited to present with youth participants during a round table conversation held on May 11 involving youth from the area and community members. For this presentation, held at Dillard Middle School, 16”x20” posters of a photograph with accompanying quotes were printed for a display. Members of the audience were encouraged to view the posters in the time before the presentation.
Due to an unexpectedly younger majority in the audience, public health students improvised the presentation to be more interactive, and an extension of the research project. Middle school youth in the audience identified with many issues presented, including fear of being near dilapidated buildings that invite individuals to loiter and engage in unhealthy behaviors. During this discussion one youth pointed out the irony of an ABC store placement as one enters town directly next to a sign that reads “Welcome to Yanceyville.”
Potential exists to further conversations on health based off of the results of this project. We have begun discussions with different community members regarding a temporary display of the posters with the possibility of making it interactive with project participants.