SON Professor Heads Up Violence Prevention and Health Assessment Programs

Sarah Lawson, associate professor of the School of Nursing, is overseeing two important projects this year: a violence prevention program with students from D.C. Virgo Middle School and consulting on a community health assessment for New Hanover County.

The violence prevention project is centered on feedback from a group of middle-school-aged kids about what they think are the biggest problems with violence within their community and school and what are the most important factors in violence prevention.

"We feel like middle schoolers are at an age when they're very vulnerable to violence," Lawson said."

Parents and stakeholders will be interviewed based on the gathered data from students, and their feedback will be the basis for piloting a violence prevention program this summer.

Funded by the School of Nursing's Corbett Award, the five-week program will consist of about 80 students meeting for one to two hours a week. Participants will be given a pre-test to gain knowledge of what's going on in their lives before going through the intervention and final testing phase.

The goal is to find a successful intervention so that the CHHS can submit for larger funding to develop a program that would include sixth and seventh graders, along with other schools in New Hanover, as well.

Lawson said she would like to see the project expand to include other places beyond Wilmington.

Lawson's second project is an extensive health assessment of New Hanover County. The State of N.C. requires that every department of health do an assessment every three years with yearly updates.

This year, the state mandated that assessments include more than just the statistical data of previous years. Assessments will be required to address the needs of the community and develop solutions to those problems.

These assessments are being done in every county across the state. Many of the counties are partnering with different systems within the universities.

Lawson said people seem excited, too. Other counties asked if they could be involved so that the CHHS can help them with their assessments.

Lawson's role is to make sure the correct data is gathered so that decisions about needs assessment are accurately addressed.

This will be Lawson's first total community health assessment. "I'm really excited about it," she said.

"I want to be out in the community," she said, "I want to be making a difference in people's health."