2014 Bruce S. Jansson MSW Award

Contest Winner: Nathan Lee Tate
Faculty Advisor: Lynn Bosma, University of South Carolina

Team CHEA-Greenville

Group Influencing State Policy – Group Project Description

The Purpose of our Project…

Our group’s purpose is to update the state code in South Carolina that directs the way health education is taught through the passage of the Health Youth Amendment (H3435) to the Comprehensive Health Education Act passed in 1988. Specifically our purpose includes advancing the dissemination of medically accurate and best-practice based, peer reviewed health information included in our states health education curriculum. Additionally our team intends to promote accountability and measurability for evaluating health education in South Carolina schools so that all South Carolina students and their families can expect to get the most proven and accurate education.

The Outcome of our Efforts…

Our team has added to the public discussion about Health Education in SC. Our team successfully engaged in a public awareness campaign, which added to the number of vocal and active supporters of the passage of the Health Youth Amendment H3435. Our strategies are built on the work that the advocacy group Tell Them has already began. Our team took advantage of the fact that we did not need to start from scratch because Tell Them already has great materials, messaging and has laid the ground work that our team built on through our public awareness and IG an written Petition. Using these methods, goals, and objectives our team put individual and public pressure on influential lawmakers. Out team and our supporters have asked lawmakers, policy advocates and stakeholders to continue the bills movement through the legislative process and eventually to passage and implementation. One of the challenges our efforts still face is the perceived controversy related to the some of the topics addressed by this bill. “Sex-Ed” is not something that many legislators want to get anywhere near despite the evidence that these reforms are intentionally designed to reduce teen pregnancy, STI Transmission Rates, and empower South Carolinas youth by providing them relevant, accurate and standards based information that they will use to make more informed and healthier decisions their own health, the health of their families and communities.

The approximate number of people affected by our project…

Based on our measures we have impacted people in the following quantities;

  • Our Advocacy Column (written by one of our group members) about Health Education was circulated in multiple South Carolina News Papers that are circulated in over 250,000 households.
  • Our Team distributed over 100 informational Brochures and Tell Them Pens
  • Out team facilitated over 50 Instagram Petitions and 28 Written Petition Signatures
  • Our team impacted more than 50 participants in both Legislative Day at the South Carolina Capital and the Health Fair at the University Center in Greenville, SC

What we learned about policy making…

Our team learned a lot about each other and the policy making process Our team worked well together from the outset. Our team had an excellent balance of personalities that made accomplishing the different elements of this project. Some members used their personal charisma and energy to get out there and meet with some folks to get things rolling. Some members wrote News Paper Columns and published them in multiple papers.

Some members researched the Bill and helped collect and complete some of the writing elements as well as engaging in the Petition and Awareness Campaign. Some members kept the group focused on the tasks to be completed and delegated and monitored the progress of different parts of the project.

Our team learned that team work is critical to advocacy and all the above mentioned strengths are necessary in order to navigate the long an arduous journey of policy development, passage and implementation.