Mary Jill LaRocca is an elementary school health teacher in Manchester. She helps students navigate the barrage of unhealthy messages that kids are exposed to. She turns to Media Power Youth’s Media Smart curriculum to help her students think critically about messages that promote violence, alcohol use, junk food and more, so they can be wise media consumers.
LaRocca explains that MPY’s curriculum begins with an overview of what “Media” is. “It goes over the positive and negative parts of media, including violence and bullying.” Once the foundation is laid, the program then reviews direct and subliminal messages of violence, substance abuse, and discrimination that are often inherent in the messages. And because much of the media directed at youngsters is trying to sell them food, “there is a whole nutrition lesson on healthy choices.”
“This program increases their awareness of what they’re being exposed to,” says LaRocca. They then become educators. It empowers them to go back to their homes to educate their siblings and parents in about making healthy choices.”
“It gives them the ability to make a right choice, a healthier choice, and hopefully a happier choice.”