Students, families to get health info and coaching

Stimulus money supports HSTA project

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Students in West Virginia University’s Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA) – and their families – are the latest to benefit from new federal funding under the Recovery Act.

Researchers at WVU, working together with colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh, are developing a web-based portal that will help the students and their families manage their health, track physical activity and nutrition, check their health risks and share health information.

HSTA – which involves teachers, parents and students in 26 West Virginia counties – is a math and science program aimed at encouraging minority, rural and disadvantaged students to prepare for careers in health and the sciences. More than 750 students participate in HSTA clubs across the state and summer institutes on five college campuses in West Virginia.

The HSTA Family Portal will include educational materials developed by the students along with professionally developed consumer health information. The site will have the capability for students and families to enter data about their physical activities and nutrition intake, as well as baseline health records.

“We are also going to explore the possibility of developing an interface with self-monitoring devices such as pedometer and exercise game consoles like Wii,” said Ann Chester, Ph.D., who leads the HSTA project and is principal investigator for the portal project. “Students and their families will be able to record their physical activities by plugging in the USB or transmitting via Bluetooth to their computers.”

The system will provide feedback and includes an online health coach to encourage students and families to take steps to stay healthy.

The National Center for Research Resources awarded the project a $226,000 grant.


For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
bc: 09-22-09

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