Using Social Networking Tools to Promote Healthy Communities

I am pleased to announce that the Building Healthy Communities Social Network is being rolled out to 15 schools in NYC, Philadelphia, and New Jersey starting next week. The Social Network is a collaboration between the EdLab (moi), the Center for Technology and School Change (Ellen Meier and Caron Mineo), and The After School Corporation (TASC). The program runs on a curriculum that was developed by Children for Children, and support for rolling out the program comes from NJ After 3, Education Works and TASC. Funding comes from the Corporation for National and Community Service, which is the branch of the federal government that supports AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America (which this program is a part of).

One of the challenges associated with this project was designing/developing a social network site that can be used with young children (the program is for kids grades 3-8). This is the first time I have tried to develop something for children; everything I have done in the past was designed for adults. We will be doing some research on how social networking tools contribute (or don’t) to creating a learning environment that promotes healthy behaviors by kids. Hopefully we won’t find that the kids get frustrated with the site and start eating more junk!