Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Planning a Prevention Program

What is Walden Center for Education and Research’s Prevention Program designed to do?

Walden’s School-Based Eating Disorder Prevention Education Program aims to do three things:
1. Raise awareness about disordered eating patterns;
2. Increase understanding of the factors that are “protective,” thereby lowering risk;
3. Empower individuals to seek help for themselves and others.

These objectives are met through the expert teaching of carefully and thoughtfully designed educational modules. These modules employ time-tested teaching strategies and up-to-date research in the fields of addiction, eating disorders and prevention education.

Prevention education helps students maintain balanced, low-risk lifestyles. Healthy students contribute to the overall wellness of a school community.

Will giving our students information about eating disorders give them new and harmful ways on how to lose weight?

We are very aware of the sensitive nature of the topic of eating disorders. We take great care in avoiding specific details about any disordered eating behaviors. Our programs are structured around prevention and intervention strategies. We do not glamorize thinness or obesity, nor do we demonize them. Our aim is to highlight healthy eating and exercise behaviors and to promote positive body image and size diversity.

Are there benefits to providing a Walden Center program in addition to the health education we already offer in our school?

Walden’s prevention program is designed to support the good work your school is already doing by providing objective, specialized education about disordered eating patterns. We hope to be a resource for students, parents, faculty and administration.

Research indicates that prevention education provided by an external source has significant benefits, including the following:
• Participants tend to be freer in asking questions, because we are “outside experts”;
• As specialists we can offer a greater depth of knowledge;
• We have experience with the treatment of eating disorders at all levels of care, thereby acting as an additional resource;
• We are able to be objective about the communities we work in; and
• Our focus is on teaching prevention skills and strategies that support multiple health education topics.

How do I know what format is best for our school?

Since each program is designed to fit the needs of the individual school community, there is no one ideal program; however, the most successful programs include sessions for students, parents and school personnel. Working with all factions of a community helps us to better identify ongoing prevention resources and strategies.

As we help you to determine what to include in your program, it may help to consider the following:
• What population(s) would you most like to reach?
• What is your main goal in offering a Walden Center program?
• Do you have time or budget constraints?
• What health education programming do you already offer?

How are Walden small-group sessions different from assemblies?

Assemblies are designed to provide general information to a wide range of people. Typically, assemblies are attended by students and adults and are relatively short in duration. Walden assemblies work well when time constraints are a factor. Assemblies typically target an entire grade level or division, providing a primarily didactic presentation. Often assemblies include PowerPoint presentations but rarely include group activities or time for Q&A.

Small-group sessions are designed to explore topics at greater depth and are more interactive. This format works well in conjunction with an ongoing in–house health or psychology class. Participants have time to ask questions and to explore topics with their peers.

Multiday small-group sessions are designed around activities, discussion, and work. Students are given time to digest new information and learn new skills.

Multiday small-group sessions are comprehensive and work best when the adults in the community are offered educational sessions concurrently.

How can this program fit into my school’s schedule?

Student modules were developed to fit into a 35- to 60-minute class period. All lessons can be adapted to fit block scheduling (80- to 90-minute classes) as well. Because we tailor each program to suit the needs of each school, we can adapt lessons to fit into class time, after school programs and assemblies. Many schools provide this program during health classes, dorm meetings and all school assemblies.

What is the ideal small-group size? How should they be grouped together?

Twelve to 25 students per group is an ideal number, especially for multiday programs. There are enough students for meaningful discussion and activities, but not so many that students feel they can’t get their questions answered.

We have found that students attending Walden Center programs participate most when attending as a group they are already a part of such as their health or English class grouping. Providing Walden programs in the framework of the existing routine greatly simplifies the scheduling process and minimizes attendance issues.

For what grade level is this program best suited?

This program was designed for students aged 14 to 17; however, each student module can be adapted to suit students from 5th through 12th grade Our pre-visit planning process helps us to develop a program that best suits the needs of your community.

What is the cost?

Currently programs for students are free if they occur on the same day. There is a charge for parent and teacher presentations. Fees can be discussed with Kristin Brawn at 781-647-6766. Our goal is never to let cost be a barrier to prevention!

Who will be leading the program?

The Walden Center prides itself in providing expert instructors to work in your school. Our experienced prevention education specialist will provide your onsite programming. When advanced clinical information is needed, Walden can arrange to have a staff clinician provide additional material and expertise.

Most of our programs are also attended by a Walden outreach associate. Outreach associates can answer specific questions about Walden treatment services in your area and provide your community with printed resource materials.

How do I go about scheduling a program?

Please contact Kristin Brawn at [email protected] or 781-647-6766.