Thursday, January 6, 2011

Deadline for Health Forms: It’s not the Tax Date but every bit as important

Happy New Year to all our delegates and families. Can you believe it is already January 6th? In just less than 5 months our first student programs take off for their life changing experiences. In preparation for the launch of our 2011 travel season, we wanted to share with you a most important reminder that will help us ensure the health and safety of each delegate.

[Image Credit: MoonRhino via Flickr]

Pretty much everyone in the USA knows the importance of the date, April 15th. That’s the day each American’s tax return must be postmarked and sent to the IRS. (This year the deadline is being moved due to a holiday so tax payers will have until midnight on Monday, April 18th to mail their returns.)

Well here at People to People Ambassador Programs we have an equally important date and that is January 15th of each year, and no that date isn’t changing. January 15th is the due date for each enrolled student Ambassador to submit a health form to their local leader.

The leader then makes a copy of both pages of this important form and keeps the original health forms and then ships a copy the Health and Safety Department at the Program Office. The purpose of making a copy is to allow the leader to carry the original with them for each student in their care in the unlikely event a medical situation arises. That way any listed medications or allergies or other important medical background can be shared with the medical professional treating the student in the foreign country.

Adhering to this date is important. The information on each health form must be reviewed and entered into our computer system. (We are working on a new process which will allow for students to fill in the health form online, dramatically improving the collection process starting later in the year.) Once the health form is imputed, the computer system scans for any of over 300 medical conditions. If a student should have one or more of these conditions a medical hold is then generated.

If you would like to learn more about the medical hold process, you can review, “Navigating the Health form, a Vital Step in Your Child’s Safety,” a blog entry made by the Health & Safety Supervisor, Wendy Armes, posted back in September for more information and background.

My son will be traveling on the the Journey through the South Pacific program in June and we filled out his health form last night. He will be turning it in during his first orientation meeting which just so happens to be scheduled on January 15th, so we won’t be late.

Using Cellhire and don't have a cell phone number yet?

While filling out the health form (which I helped design by the way), I did notice one difficult question to answer. On the form it suggests you consider renting a cell phone for your child for safety reasons, which I support. It also asks you to supply us with the cell number that your child might be taking along with them. My son is planning to rent a Cellhire GPS phone with the new Panic Alert button on it. We won’t have that number until a couple weeks prior to travel, though.

Sometimes as much as we run simulations and plan, it takes participating as a parent of a Student Ambassador to get some of the minor annoyances to our system out. We will be modifying the health form for 2012 so that we don’t ask for the number yet.

Anyway, no worries, Casey will be able to provide the leader the number when he meets in the departure city so that the leader has his contact information in the event he ever needs it. It doesn’t happen often but like any parent I want Casey to be as reachable as possible in any situation.

Besides, the Cellhire phone will be local to Australia so the phone rates I get will be much less than if he were to take his personal cell and have me activate the international calling option. I have to admit that since I helped guide the development of the GPS tracking options I can’t wait to track my own son with it!

I will be able to see the same road he is standing on and freak him out by sending a SMS message commenting on something he is looking at from my home in Spokane. Talk about being a helicopter parent!

If any of you are interested in renting a Cellhire cell phone, just go to and view all the many phone options you can select from.

So remember, get the health form in by January 15th. My staff is waiting with anticipation for them to arrive on-time in the program office so we can check that step off your list of things to do before embarking on your wonderful life changing experience with People to People Ambassador Programs.

As always, I wish you all safe travels and a healthy life!


  1. I know your son will enjoy the journey Through the South Pacific program. It's one of my favorites, full of amazing adventures. As far as you sending a SMS message, as a rule, in my delegation, I don't encourage or allow the students to text during the day while being active on the program. We reserve that for evenings back at the hotel. If he is busy looking at your text instead of the scenery around him, he could miss out on the fantastic cultural experience - not to mention be distracted from following directions that keep him safe. My experience are that parents that actively "hover" don't realize that it benefits the parent and not usually the student on the program. So if you have to hover, do it in a stealth mode and let your student learn some independence. Just my 2-cents worth!

  2. PS - If you want to see what our delegation did on our Journey through the South Pacific, check out our blog on the P2P global hub site under the blog or visit

  3. Ms. Ginny, as a seasoned leader yourself, I greatly appreciate your comments. I agree the student needs to have time free to grow and become independent. My 17 year old could use a little of that. I also agree the students should not be texting or using the phone when someone is speaking or they are touring one of the great treasures seen on the program. I do think there are many other opportunities like after meals or during motor coach rides when no one’s talking and the leader give the OK for I-phones or texting. I do like the ability to communicate however. It gives the parent and a student the knowledge that they can connect whenever they need to. As a matter of safety, I also like the fact that we can call the student if needed. I do get the spirit of your message and promise not to bug my son while he is on the program.

    P.S. Thanks so much for forwarding the link. I have sent to my home email and will let Casey review tonight. Looks like you all had a blast and I know Casey wants to surf which I see you all did.