Healthy Choices for Kids

Somewhere in Indiana, a perky 10-year-old will choose to eat a juicy orange instead of a nutritionally vacant candy bar. That small act, which could ultimately make the difference between a healthy life and one of obesity and illness, is partly the result of Janet Kamiri deciding she’d have more impact teaching health nutrition than her other passion, oboe.

Kamiri’s switch from a music education major to a health education major led to her involvement with a Ball State student team that crafted components of Project 18, named after the jersey number of its spokesperson, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

Created by Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent, Project 18 is an anti-childhood obesity campaign that encourages Hoosier children and their families to make healthy choices. While the hospital was working on the project with Strategic Marketing & Research Inc., SMARI's president and chief executive officer, Jim Ittenbach, a 1971 Ball State alumnus, saw the opportunity to involve Ball State students.

"Students need to gain real-world experience and connections while they are in school," Ittenbach says. "It broadens their perspective and helps them learn how to interact with different disciplines so when they go into the workplace, they can succeed. The students can develop low-cost, pragmatic, practical ways to reach out to youth."

As members of and Health FellowsBuilding Better Communities Fellows , Kamiri and students from many disciplines—advertising, public relations, marketing, dietetics, nursing, physiology, wellness, and health education—developed Project 18's school-based curriculum, created a plan and materials to support the Down the Aisle program at Marsh Supermarkets, and formulated public relations strategies.

“These students were amazing,” says Jennifer Bott, associate professor of management, who has led several immersive learning projects. “With so many disciplines, it could have been a discordant, dramatic situation, but the team worked together fabulously. This is the capstone of my whole career.”

Kamiri, who worked later at St. Vincent as an intern to help finalize the curriculum she wrote and then tested with fourth-graders, credits Bott’s style for the team’s success.

“Dr. Bott stepped back and let us do the project on our own,” Kamiri says. “At certain points when we didn’t quite have the real-world knowledge we needed, she helped us to bridge that gap between being a student and being a professional.”

Bott’s mentoring and the students’ collaborating with each other and their corporate partners to create and launch the program has been successful so far.

“Sometimes when we do immersive learning projects with corporate partners, we don’t know if they use the ideas,” Bott says. “This time, we know the ideas will be used throughout the state. It’s exciting and fulfilling.”

“It’s very exciting to see our work come out in more than 200 schools,” says Hollie Adams, system marketing manager at St. Vincent Health. “We’re going to launch a couple of additional programs to go along it. What’s most exciting is that we may attract national interest.”

Related Links:


College of Applied Sciences and Technology

College of Communication, Information, and Media

College of Sciences and Humanities

Department of Family and Consumer Science

Department of Journalism

Department of Marketing and Management

Department of Physiology and Health Science


Fisher Institute for Wellness and Gerontology

Miller College of Business

Immersive Learning