Who We Are:
The Weller Center’s mission is to measurably improve children’s lives by giving them, and the adults who influence them, the tools they need to make informed and healthy life choices. Simply put, our goal is to empower kids and families to make better decisions about their health. One of just 34 health education centers across the nation, the Weller Center partners with hundreds of schools and community organizations each year to supplement and enhance the teaching of health, character education and life science for kids in grades pre-K through 12. Our sole focus is prevention. The only organization of its kind in our 39-county service area, the Weller Center specializes in reaching and connecting with kids in a way that is meaningful to them before risky behaviors take hold. Since our inception in 1982, more than 1.4 million children have participated in our programs. Last year alone, we served 40,000 kids and families from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. More than half of the children who participate in our programs each year are economically disadvantaged and more than 40 percent are racial and ethnic minorities who face increased risks for obesity, experiencing violence, teen pregnancy and other health risks. To ensure the programs are relevant to the kids and families being served, we make culturally-sensitive modifications to the programs or develop new programs to meet their specific needs. For example, our Niños en Acción (Kids in Motion) program, funded through a grant from the Aetna Foundation, offers school- and community-based obesity prevention programs that specifically reflect the cultural norms and values of our community's growing Hispanic population. More than 10,000 children and their families have been positively impacted by the program since 2009. Reaching so many children and families at risk with health education programs is a great achievement, but to have a sustained impact the programs have to be effective. Program evaluation is a critical factor that sets Weller apart from other organizations. Kids who participate in our programs take part in surveys that measure what they’ve learned and how they plan to change their behavior after the program. We also administer six-week follow-up tests to make sure kids are remembering and practicing what they learned. Though obesity and other health risks will continue to threaten the lives of our children, the Weller Center stays committed to the fight. By reaching kids in their classrooms and communities, we are making a measurable difference every day. With the help of teachers, parents, community partners and our sponsors, the Weller Center will continue to deliver these programs to as many kids as we can.
What we do:
The Weller Center offers more than 40 outreach assemblies, after-school and community programs in nutrition and fitness, character education and violence prevention, addiction prevention and human growth and development. Kids who participate in our programs learn how and why to eat right and exercise, to avoid tobacco, drugs and alcohol, how to protect their reproductive health and the skills to develop and maintain healthy relationships. Our programs utilize a community-wide, public health approach which focuses on prevention and promoting the well-being of children and whole families. We know that by helping kids build a strong foundation of good health, we’re helping to pave the way for their academic and personal achievement. Our strategy with kids is simple — engage, enlighten and inspire. Our Health Educators, all master’s level or certified health education specialists, are the centerpiece of our programming. They use lively discussion, interactive media and even music to engage kids of all ages and create a memorable educational experience. Our Health Educators are experts at establishing a safe environment in which kids feel comfortable learning, asking questions and talking about sensitive but critically important issues. They know how to connect with kids and teens on these vital topics and get them excited about learning. Along with our student programs, we provide a multitude of wraparound resources including enrichment activities, lesson plans and in-services for teachers. Our customized health risk behavior surveys help school districts identify the risky behaviors students are engaging in so that curricula and programming resources can be allotted appropriately and effectively. For parents, we offer our Healthy Family Tool Kits which help them learn how to start and maintain conversations with their kids about important and often sensitive health topics. Kids and adults can also use our comprehensive online health resource libraries. The Weller Center is the main source of health, wellness and prevention education in many school districts we serve. However, over the last two years, the worsening economic recession has forced many school districts to make unprecedented cuts in health education. We work diligently securing private and public funds to ensure our outcomes- and evidence-based programs remain accessible to the children who need them the most.
The Weller Center has been our region’s premier provider of children’s health education for nearly 30 years. Plans for the Weller Center, the third oldest nonprofit health education center in the country, began in 1977 when concerned community leaders, including medical practitioners and members of the Junior League, envisioned a teaching facility where children and adults could learn about the human body and make the right choices to live longer, healthier lives. The Junior League provided the seed money for the facility and a capital fund drive was launched to complete the renovations of the interactive teaching classrooms and to purchase and install specialized teaching aids and state-of-the-art exhibits. The Center was named in honor of Carl and Emily Weller, long-time residents of Easton, Pennsylvania, who provided a major gift to the capital campaign. Schools throughout the region quickly came to depend on the Weller Center’s programs as an integral part of their own curriculum. Thousands of students from schools across our area visited our facility each year. In the late 1980s, the Weller Center began offering outreach programs to local schools that were unable to travel to our facility. In 2001, we expanded our outreach to include schools throughout 39 counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. By 2003, every Weller Center program was available as an outreach assembly. The success of Weller’s outreach programs continued to grow. As the No Child Left Behind Act left many school districts with limited time and resources for school trips, districts across our region embraced our outcomes-based assembly programming which allowed students to receive all the benefits of a Weller program with the convenience of not having to travel to the Center's facility. In 2008, to meet the changing needs of the schools we serve, the Weller Center ceased offering programs at its Easton facility and became "all outreach all the time," which allows Weller to focus more resources on developing and delivering high-impact health education assemblies.