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Wednesday, November 12, 2003
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College of Communication and ACS gain momentum in second year

By Marisa Long

The College of Communication and the Ohio division of the American Cancer Society (ACS) are teaming up for a second year - and they are adding new projects to their agenda.

The collaboration is part of a three-year grant from ACS given to the College of Communication. The program allows faculty members and students to play an integral role in developing, planning, publicizing and implementing new communication tactics and programs for ACS.

"There is no limit to what we can do," says Sharon Romina, Ohio University's American Cancer Society project coordinator. "We are always looking for new projects to add."

A new addition to the ACS program this year is a health conference that will be held at Athens Middle School for student leaders. The conference is being planned and implemented by students in Professor Lynn Harter's communication studies 405 course - meetings and conference planning. The conference, "Change: Are You Ready for the Challenge," will take place on Nov. 12.

The conference will feature keynote speaker Kevin Kuwick, Ohio University basketball coach, who will teach the students how to implement the idea of nutrition and physical activities to other students. There will also be various exhibits provided by health professionals on health issues ranging from diabetes to cancer.

The students in Harter's class have spent the quarter planning all aspects of the conference, from choosing the food to picking the topics that will be discussed. They even raised $600 dollars for the conference through a fund-raiser at the Red Brick Tavern.

Stephanie Heacock, a senior majoring in organizational communication says that planning the conference has been a beneficial experience.

"We have learned so much already," she says. "The experience so far is very true to life because we have the opportunity to plan an actual conference for the American Cancer Society."

Two courses taught by Professor Bojinka Bishop, Sloan Professor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, are working with ACS for the second year as well.

Journalism 370 - public relations principles is interviewing scholarship recipients and writing profiles on these individuals for the ACS Web site and other publications.

"This project provides students with the opportunity to not only learn public relations principles, but to also implement them in a real way," Bishop says. "They get to work with pros in the health care field, interview cancer survivors and help the organization."

Bishop's Journalism 472 course - advanced public relations will also be working with ACS in the winter and spring on campaign plans dealing with health issues such as the dangers of smoking and the importance of good nutrition.

Graduate students have also been contributing to ACS. Some of the students are analyzing data from previous surveys, while others are forming new surveys. Currently, five communication development graduate students are working on a survey that will measure satisfaction levels to improve the customer relations of ACS.

The partnership with ACS has proven to be a valuable educational tool for students in the College of Communication.

"I think that service learning is an educational strategy that allows the students to practice communication theory in concrete ways," Harter says. "The students get more excited about learning, and it encourages them to be more aware of health issues and their own health."

Romina is pleased with the success of the program thus far, and she sees the partnership as beneficial to everyone involved.

"Students, faculty and of course the American Cancer Society have been affected positively through this partnership," she says. "We (ACS) couldn't be happier with the outcome."

Marisa Long is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.
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