About RIA

Reflection in Action: building healthy communities™ is a citywide competition in visual, written, and performing arts, and a day to celebrate healthy living.

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Reflection in Action: building healthy communities™ was designed to inspire Boston’s Middle School and High School students about individual and community health, and to translate these improvements into engagement in civic action.

In every aspect of the program, students are exposed to urban health issues and are encouraged to choose a healthy lifestyle. Young people discover that their voices, creative expressions, and activism can have a positive impact on our individual and collective health.

RIA was first conceived in 2003 as an extension of the Harvard Medical School Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership Explorations program. Explorations, the fall component associated with RIA, is an annual, full-day, hands-on program addressing career exploration in science and medicine for Boston and Cambridge middle school students.

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Reflection in Action was also created in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the March on Washington, the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, and the 100th anniversary of Harvard Medical School (HMS) at its Longwood Avenue location. The program was designed as a full-day celebration of the Civil Rights Movement, of individuals who went on to address health disparities, and in recognition of the fact that individual efforts can result in community-altering changes. RIA involves expanding middle school students’ knowledge about health and public health issues, while at the same time recognizing students’ roles as leaders in the community and providing an opportunity for students to express their messages about health through the arts.

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Over time, Reflection in Action has grown from 44 student contest submissions and 200 student attendees in 2004, to 266 submissions received from 337 youth in 2011. This city-wide student competition focuses on safety, healthy eating, physical fitness, health disparities, urban health issues, anti-violence, oral health, public health, heart, lung, blood and kidney diseases, and sleeping disorders. A panel of judges from industry, academe, the arts community, the local media, public schools, and community-based organizations select winners of the contest in performance, visual art and writing categories. Winners receive cash prizes and all students are recognized with certificates. RIA supports the national Let’s Move! campaign, America’s move to raise a healthier generation of kids, initiated by First Lady Michelle Obama. The Let’s MOVE! campaign’s focus on fitness and nutrition intersects perfectly with the RIA health themes and is a focus during the RIA day of celebration, this year on June 3rd.

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RIA day features performances by performance contest winners, an exhibit of the winning art entries, presentation of contest award certificates, Health Bowl quiz game, Youth Leadership Award and Ruth M. Batson Award presentations, educational demonstrations and activities, prizes and more.

 

 

 

 

 

RIA IMPLEMENTATION AND ADOPTION GUIDE – click to download

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History

2004

Reflection in Action was created in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the March on Washington and in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education and the 100th anniversary of Harvard Medical School (HMS) at its Longwood Avenue location. The program was designed as a full-day celebration of the Civil Rights Movement, of individuals who went on to address health disparities, and in recognition of the fact that individual efforts can result in community-altering changes. Two hundred students responded by registering for the day’s events.

2005

Our goal for 2005 was to build on the links between Explorations and Reflection in Action 2004. A city-wide student competition similar to that of 2004 was conducted with an emphasis on heart disease, asthma, lung disease, high blood pressure, and other health issues prevalent in urban communities. The judges, who were very enthusiastic about seeing the competitions continue, were again invited to judge the students’ work and select winners at varying levels. Contest entrants and other students were invited to participate in a morning program to recognize their efforts.

2006

Reflection in Action has grown from 44 student submissions and 200 student attendees in 2004 to more than 200 student entries and 400 student participants in 2006. This city-wide student competition focuses on heart disease, asthma, lung disease, high blood pressure, oral health, nutrition, health disparities and other health issues prevalent in urban communities. A panel of celebrity judges from industry, academe, the arts community, the local media, public schools, and community-based organization select winners in performance, art and writing categories. Winners receive cash prizes and all students are recognized with certificates.

2007

The city-wide student competition focusing on heart disease, asthma, lung disease, high blood pressure, oral health, nutrition, health disparities, and other health issues prevalent in urban communities received more than 200 submissions from 377 youth in 2007. A panel of celebrity judges from industry, academe, the arts community, the local media, public schools, and community-based organizations selected winners in performance, art, and writing categories. Winners received cash prizes and all students were recognized with certificates.

This year’s inaugural Ruth M. Batson Social Justice Award, sculptured by Fay Stevenson-Smith and presented to Susan Baston, was sponsored by the Cambridge Health Alliance.

2008

In 2008 Reflection in Action grew to more than 290 students submissions from 371 youth.

Reflection in Action: building healthy communities™ was honored to present its second annual Ruth M. Batson Social Justice Award to John M. Auerbach, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The award, sculpted by Fay Stevenson-Smith, was sponsored by the Cambridge Health Alliance.

2009

On April 14, 2009, students from Boston and Cambridge schools gathered for the seventh annual Reflection in Action: building healthy communities™ at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center. Students submitted 332 visual, written and performance entries.

The third annual Ruth M. Batson Social Justice Award was presented at the event to Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services. Dr. Bigby is a former HMS faculty member and Director of Community Health Programs at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

2010

In 2010, Reflection in Action: building healthy communities™ established the RIA Youth Leadership Awards. These inaugural awards, sponsored by Northeastern University and the HMS Office for Diversity and Community Partnership, recognize outstanding student leaders representing four areas: Boston Middle Schools, Cambridge Middle Schools, Boston High Schools and Cambridge High Schools. Honorees were: Yasmin Bailey, Andrew Edge, Jacob Klibaner, Isaiah Lyons-Galante and Dominique Wilson.
The RIA Youth Leadership Awards were modeled after the Ruth M. Batson Social Justice Award. In 2010, the 4th Annual Ruth M. Batson Social Justice Award recipient was James C. Mullen, former President and Chief Executive Officer of Biogen IDEC. The award is sculpted by Dr. Fay Stevenson-Smith.

2011

New in 2011, RIA began in support of the national Let’s Move! campaign, America’s move to raise a healthy generation of kids, initiated by First Lady Michelle Obama. Let’s Move! focuses on fitness and nutrition, and intersects perfectly with the RIA health themes. The June 1st RIA day of Celebrating Healthy Living featured educational activities and demonstrations on physical fitness and healthy eating. One of Boston’s “top chefs” demonstrated how to prepare a healthy snack, and a certified trainer got the students moving during the Get Up and MOVE! Fitness Sessions. The Neighborhood Mapping Project was another first for RIA. Classrooms of students created maps of their neighborhoods to and from their schools, identifying green spaces, parks, playgrounds, youth centers, gyms, restaurants, food stores and other features in their communities that were important to them and their health.

2012

In 2012, RIA continued its support of the Let’s Move! campaign by First Lady Michelle Obama. Approximately 400 students, teachers, and family members attended the Day of Celebration on May 31st. Students participated in various educational activities to spotlight fitness and nutrition such as witnessing a healthy snack demonstration from a local chef, learning the dance from the “Move Your Body” song from the Let’s Move campaign by Beyonce in the fitness session, and participating in the Health Bowl, a jeopardy-like game that focuses on science content.

The 6th annual Ruth M. Batson Social Justice Award winner was Dr. J. Keith Motley, Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is also the founder and chair of the Roxbury Preparatory Charter School, the Concerned Black Men of Massachusetts, Inc., and the Paul Roberson Institute for Positive Self-Development.