Health Hero Challenge

Meet a Health Hero Semifinalist: Marian Uhlman

Marian Uhlman, co-founder of Healthy NewsWorks, is one of our 10 Be Well Philly Health Hero Challenge semifinalists.


Marian Uhlman

Marian Uhlman is the co-founder of Healthy NewsWorks and a Health Hero Challenge semifinalist.

» You can vote for Marian Uhlman here from September 4th through October 2nd. 

Name: Marian Uhlman

Role: Co-founder and executive director of Healthy NewsWorks, an organization that empowers elementary and middle school students to become researchers and writers who support the spread of health information and literacy through publishing and digital media.

What motivates you to try and make Philadelphia a healthier place?
I love working with our elementary and middle school reporters and their teachers. There’s nothing like seeing kids get excited about making healthy choices for themselves and taking seriously their role as health messengers for their communities. Always a highlight is when they interview a community health leader and share that information with their peers through their published work. In the process, they also gain literacy skills and a lot of confidence and pride. As one third grader said this year, “I got to learn how to be healthy and to teach other people how to stay healthy.”

Describe a health or fitness-related turning point in your life.
About 20 years ago, I was writing two stories on the same day: A New Jersey patient who was about to receive the first hand transplant in the United States and a Pennsylvania Department of Health initiative that encouraged people to drink low-fat milk. The juxtaposition of a high-tech medical procedure for one person and a simple intervention that could benefit multitudes prompted me to rethink my focus as a medical writer. I started reporting and writing as much as I could about basic public health practices that could help people lead healthier lives.

What policy would you institute to make Greater Philadelphia a healthier region?
People need easy access to healthy options in their neighborhoods to make healthy choices. For instance, they would be encouraged to drink more water if it were free and available in public spaces. They also would choose to walk more if there were safe sidewalks and parks. Community members — including kids — should be involved in the process of deciding what projects should be implemented in their neighborhoods. From a policy standpoint, the benefits of these improvements need to be well explained and shared with the community through factual, relevant, local publications and digital media.

What’s the most important part of your health or wellness regimen?
I try to follow the basic health and wellness advice that I have learned from health experts, from using seatbelts to eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and exercising most days. But I think the most important thing I try to do daily is enjoy a good laugh. It keeps life in perspective.

What is your number one piece of health-related advice or encouragement?
When you have a health question or concern, seek out the answer from a reliable source. Determine whether you have found trustworthy information by asking yourself, “Why is this person, website, or book an expert on the topic?” Don’t rely on just one source for information. Confirm the answer with a second reliable source.

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