Emily Heer ‘14

M.Sc Public Health, McGill University / Epidemiology Associate at Alberta Health Services

Emily’s Question: What shapes a body?

Keystone Title: The Westmount Charter School Health and Wellness Strategy

Abstract: Emily’s Keystone builds on literature from Applied Physiology, Nutrition, Education and beyond to develop a health and wellness for the Westmount Charter School, aiming to build healthy food and eating habits into the curriculum of the institution. This strategy gives particular attention to the challenge of ensuring healthy practices in gifted students whom are prone to high levels of stress and anxiety disorders, and often stem from similar causes as eating disorders.

 

What did you do for your Experiential Learning Block?
I spent a block at a private school in Calgary collecting data about fitness levels and nutrition in school-aged children. I’m interested in childhood obesity and since kids spend most of their time at school, I decided this would be a good place to look.

What was a typical day like?
In the morning, I would meet with administration and go over any new developments. Then I would spend the rest of the day (until about 3:30 pm) doing fitness testing or surveying students. During testing breaks I would tabulate data and write up results.

What was the hardest part of the experience?
I didn’t anticipate how much work there would actually be, as silly as that sounds. Fitness testing takes a lot of time and it takes a ton of determination to stay committed and finish what you started–even when you don’t want to.

What did you learn?
I got some invaluable experience with a subject that I will likely be working with later. I discovered what I like and don’t like about data collection, working with kids, and working with a third party that is also expecting something from your research.

You said it was a good networking experience as well. Explain.
One great thing about working with academics and teachers is that they have tons of contacts for grad schools and future research opportunities.

What advice would you give students?
I would recommend that you find an EL experience that will give you a head start on your Keystone. Working with a school or similar institution is a really good idea, as well; you receive tons of support and advice and it makes the process go a whole lot smoother. If I were to do my EL again, I would plan it further in advance! There were so many things I didn’t account for and I had to scramble pretty hard.

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