Team Members: Casey Wasko, Emily Jaffe, Lauren Dudley
What is the expected time to completion for our project?
To complete the foundation of the newsletter “Healthy Circle,” the group will require about six months. During this time, we will create a database of research that will be distributed through digital newsletters and social media. We will start and grow a database of research, which will provide reliable sources for future newsletters. Our goal is that we will need six months of production for the format of the newsletter to be created. However, the newsletter will continue after six months and will therefore require continuous updating to examine new public health information and trends.
We propose to create a regional and seasonal public health online newsletter, named “Healthy Circle.” The newsletter will be distributed seasonally, meaning four times a year, in four United States geographic regions: the Northeast, the Midwest, the South and the West. Therefore, sixteen newsletter variations will be written throughout a one-year cycle. Every newsletter will include three areas of public health: physical health, nutritional health and environmental health. The newsletter will also provide a blog for readers and public health professionals to share news and discuss public health issues. Healthy Circle strives to produce accessible, comprehensive and local public health information to educate and encourage healthy lifestyles.
The newsletter will be distributed through several Internet websites. The newsletter’s homebase will be “HealthyCircle.com.” The website will use a layout that is modular, color-coded, and customizable by region. Each US region will have a tab. Within the region, the reader can choose seasonal information. Pictures will accompany text to visually sensationalize topics. Healthy Circle will also be available as an app or a small printout, inspired by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch site. Social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, will announce updates to reach young to middle-age readers. Such a multi-faceted approach is necessary for marketing and success in this day and age.
The nutritional health section will include three sections: community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, farmer’s markets, and seasonal foods. The CSA page will describe the public health benefits for farmers and consumers, specify how each program works, and information on ways to sign up. The farmer’s market page will list local markets and the farm selling food at the markets. The seasonal foods page will list all of the local produce that is in season and will include recipes to cook with these fresh fruits and vegetables.
The physical health section will include family and beginner- friendly information about local activities. Seasonal outdoor tips will highlight local popular activities, such as hiking trails. Outdoor activities will take into account local environmental concerns, such as encroachment on habitat of local endangered species. The modular layout will display these tips alongside health concerns in ones’ area, such as heat wave alerts, flu predictions, and tips for self-care. These tips are not meant to be substitutions for hospitals, and Healthy Circle will use local health networks as sources for health bulletins and recommendations. We hope that a close relationship with area health networks will benefit the information we post and readers to become more familiar with friendly providers in their area
The environmental health section will include three sections: local air and water quality, pesticide usage and green space. Environmental health information provides a pro-active method to improve public health. By understanding local environmental health, readers will know activities that are safe for their health, such as swimming in a local body of water. The environmental health section will use ArcGIS (discussed below) to create maps that show pollution levels of air and water, pesticide levels and local parks.
Sources: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/, http://www.mountaintrails.org/map/ & http://www.cdc.gov/media/index.html
What unmet need does our project meet?
While the United States has made improvements in public health in the last several years, the nation ranks below other high-income countries. According to “U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health,” the public health disadvantage is not solely correlated to income level, but is true across all economic standings and part of the United State’s health disadvantage is due to individual behaviors and physical and social environmental factors. With rising rates of health issues, Americans have become more interested in improving their personal health. Many resources exist to aid Americans in their quest for good health. For example, apps track workouts and diet, newspaper articles provide healthy recipes and workout strategies and journal articles discuss the latest scientific trends in illnesses. According to a 2011 Pew Research Center survey, “80% of internet users have looked online for information about any of 15 health topics, such as a specific disease or treatment.” While today’s technology allows for access to information, it also provides an abundance of information that overwhelms users. From what our interviews have shown us, Americans are more interested in their health, but lack a single, comprehensive source to learn how to change their lifestyle. This was evident with our interviewees in both the 18-25 age range and in the 45-65 age range. Therefore, Healthy Circle provides an understandable, accessible and local source of information that improves the three vectors of public health: physical health, nutritional health and environmental health.
National Research Council. U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2013.
Interviews of potential users:
Questions we asked Interviewees:
1. Are you interested in public health issues? If so, how do you get your information?
2. Are you interested in environmental issues? If so, how do you get your information?
3. Do you receive newsletters on local public health or environmental issues?
4. How do you keep tabs on local public health issues?
5. How do you decide what to eat or what activities to partake in?
6. What kind of technology do you use to get your information? What kinds would you like to use if you could use any?
7. What might you want to know about local public health or environmental problems?
8. How important is buying food seasonally/locally?
9. How do you decide what to do with your family or friends every weekend?10. How important is nutrition, physical and environmental health to you?
Interview 1: Alex Bolling: 21, female, student (Parks & Recreation college major), Slippery Rock, PA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Interview 2: Rachael Restum: 24, female, 2nd Grade Teacher, Glendale, AZ
Interview 3: Morgan Turner: 24, female, Physical Therapist, San Clemente, CA
Interview 4: Candace Sabey: 62, retired accountant, Park City, UT, email@example.com
From our interviews we learned that the first three young adults all said they were interested in public health and environmental news, but get most of their information from the internet and online sources. They also all liked the idea of buying local and organic, but their budgets didn’t always allow for them to do this. Candance, the retired 62 year-old, gets printed news sources and has the financial flexibility to buy from local farmer’s markets. This made us reconsider our method of distribution, and strengthened the rationale for having several outlets for our newsletter.
How big is our potential market?
The potential market for the newsletter includes young families and 20-50 year olds in the United States. According to the “CIA World Factbook,” there are approximately 130 million twenty- fifty year old Americans. According to “USA Today,” there are 38 million households with children under age 18. These young families are an essential niche for Healthy Circle because young parents are often busy and concerned about their family’s health. As referred to earlier, 80% of internet users have used online sources for 15 different health topics. According to PEW, This totals to 59% of all American adults. We will continue to update how big the potential market for the newsletter is in future years by following the U.S. Census Bureau statistics.
How is our idea innovative?
The newsletter is innovative because it will portray the spatial relationship between geography and public health issues. The public health maps in Healthy Circle will be informational and readable. To do this, we will use ArcMap 10.1 to spatially join data from Social Explorer and the US Census Data with projected coordinate systems. Readers will be able to view where certain public health concerns are spatially located, such as the cycle of a flu virus or the air quality of a city. In regional specific sites, a modular, color coded news system would help new users easily and quickly identify the information they are looking for. This allows readers to learn to make educated choices in a personalized fashion. If the project proves successful, more niche, localized reporters may be utilized to create a more comprehensive map and news archive.
Close competition includes news sources with environmental, public or nutritional health information. For example, Sierra Club, which averages 865,000 readers monthly, according to QuantCast, will compete for Healthy Circle readers interested about environmental issues. In addition, National Geographic, local health newsletters, and outdoor recreation magazines are competition.
How will your idea be financially sustainable? 150
The newsletter will be financially sustainable through advertisements and minimal charges. The newsletter costs will include charges for a web host, creating an application and paying wages for a web developer and writers. According to “TheSiteWizard.com,” the web host will cost 10 dollars per month and software will cost around 400 dollars. For web development, it will cost roughly a third of the newsletter profits. While the $50,000 grant will help pay these costs, advertisements and charges will be needed. The newsletter will use space to advertise for local activities and stores related to health and the environment, such as REI and other nearby co-ops. The newsletter will implement minimal charges. The first ten articles will be free, but articles read beyond this threshold will charge a one dollar fee per article. Healthy Circle will depend on freelancers to write regional articles each month.
Why are you and your team the right people to develop this project?
We are young adults who are Healthy Circle’s target audience and understand the importance for reliable public health news. Casey is in the Art School, which provides skills in web design and layout. Emily is an urban and environmental studies student. She knows how to use ArcGIS and understands environmental health issues. Lauren is understands budgeting. She will manage finances, such as tracking income from advertisements and newsletter subscriptions. We all have the passion for environmental and public health issues to stay motivated to make our publication deadlines in order to help the American public improve their health.