Success Story: Connecticut

Tell Me What You See - An Innovative STD, Hepatitis and HIV/AIDS Prevention Initiative That Helps Students Visualize Their Way to a Healthier Future 

By Darrell Decker, Concerned Citizens for Humanity

James Horton, Concerned Citizens for Humanity

Mike Salius, Salius Communications

Heidi Jenkins, Connecticut State Department of Public Health

Susan Major, Connecticut State Department of Public Health

Bonnie J. Edmondson, Connecticut State Department of Education 

Tell Me What You See, a statewide initiative developed in Connecticut, integrates functional knowledge and skill development through an art-based approach to prevention education. The dynamic combination of assessments and artwork are what set Tell Me What You See apart from other health education initiatives. The artwork and poetry were produced by incarcerated youth in a program designed to enable them to make a difference in the lives of their peers. The resulting artwork effectively engages youth and opens up a critical dialogue on the role personal behavior can have in the prevention of STDs, hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.  

Health teachers who have used Tell Me What You See find that its art-based prevention messages reach their students on an emotional as well as on an intellectual level and breaks downs barriers that sometime inhibit classroom discussion. The program also incorporates activities that promote dialogue between students and significant adults. The following comments from health educators illustrate the benefits of the program: 

  • “Tell Me What You See represents a big difference from the standard curriculum for kids…It actively engages them.”
  •  “Many students had emotional reactions to the artwork that helped them share their own thoughts and get a sense of what others were thinking and feeling.”
  • “The artwork scared some students because it brought home to them what it would be like to have one of these diseases. This created an honest classroom discussion.” 

In addition to the art-based component of Tell Me What You See, there’s a knowledge based component comprised of pre- and post-assessments to assist teachers and students in measuring what has been learned. An in-depth evaluation of the program conducted in 2008 indicated that there was a statistically significant gain between pre- and post-assessment scores. The program has proven to be effective in increasing students’ functional knowledge; ability to visualize and be introspective; ability to consider the impact of behavior on family, friends, community and self; and communications with significant adults (parents, teachers, health professionals and others). 

Tell Me What You See includes a complete package of easy to implement classroom materials that can increase student engagement in any existing health education curriculum. The program has been successfully implemented with urban, suburban and rural schools, state technical high school students, the American School for the Deaf, schools that serve physically and behaviorally challenged youth, and with community based organizations.  

For more information about Tell Me What You See, contact Darrell Decker, Executive Director of Concerned Citizens for Humanity at ccfh@mindspring.com or (860) 560-0833.   

The Tell Me What You See program was produced by Concerned Citizens for Humanity, Ltd., the program administrator, in collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the Connecticut Department of Education, and Community Partners in Action. The Connecticut Department of Public Health, the Connecticut Department of Education and Centers for Disease Control provide support for the program.