For Kids’ Health, Prevention Work(s)!

September 09, 2009

By Amanda Chablani, HSC policy specialist 

Prevention

HSC parent wellness summit, May 2009

HSC was gratified to see leaders from six influential foundations and health-care organizations release an open letter calling for disease prevention to be a central part of health care reform.

As an organization that promotes prevention in schools, we couldn’t agree more.

As their letter explains [PDF], “Place — where one lives, works, goes to school, and plays — impacts
health in profound ways” and “reducing toxins, ensuring access to
healthy foods, providing safe places for physical activity, creating
healthy and safe homes and workplaces all have substantial bodies of
research documenting their effectiveness.”

Here at
HSC, we’re working hard to make sure that students have this type of
safe place to learn and play at school. To us, this means offering
fresh, healthy food, ample opportunities for physical activity, an
environment free of potentially harmful chemicals and access to health
services to address the health needs that arise when children are at
school. To make this vision a reality, we work on numerous programs and
policies including:

  • We support the Chicago Public
    Schools’ ongoing efforts to significantly alter its menu by adding
    more fresh fruits and vegetables, removing trans fats, eliminating deep
    fryers in schools and much more.
  • We support a strong reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act to increase funding so schools around the country can also have healthier menus.
  • We work with schools, manufacturers, distributors, local authorities and state governments to promote green cleaning, thereby reducing toxins in the school environment.
  • We support efforts to secure funding for green, high-performing school buildings and green renovation of existing school buildings.
  • We
    help principals find time for recess, and we support efforts, such as
    the FIT Kids Act, to recognize physical education as an essential part
    of the school day.
  • We provide leadership skills to school nurses to help them promote school health. We support establishing a school nurse ratio so students have access to a school nurse at every school.

Schools
are key places to put our nation’s prevention goals into practice. As
the letter from these influential leaders makes clear, “Over time a
focus on community prevention will improve health, save money, reduce
the demands on our health system, and most important, it will lead to a
nation of healthier people and healthier places to live.”

We believe that’s something everyone can agree on.