Recognizing the Role of Schools in the National Prevention Strategy: Share Your Comments by Jan. 13

January 11, 2011

By Alex Schaible, HSC Writer & Policy Analyst

The federal government is changing its approach to health and, for the first time, our country’s decision makers are taking a serious look at how to protect the health of Americans through prevention –- that is, helping people stay well and preventing illness. 

Last month, the National Prevention Council, a group of 17  federal departments and agencies charged with planning and coordinating prevention efforts around the country, released a draft of recommendations for the National Prevention Strategy. The goal of these recommendations is to develop a strategy for “working together to improve the health and quality of life for individuals, families and communities by moving the nation from a focus on sickness and disease to one based on wellness and prevention.” 

The council is accepting comments on this draft through this Thurs., Jan. 13. This is a wonderful opportunity to make sure that the important role that schools play in health and wellness is recognized. 

Schools provide an ideal setting for prevention and health promotion.  For example, providing students with good indoor air quality, access to healthy food and opportunities to be physically active at school can have a major impact on two significant and preventable epidemics: childhood asthma and obesity.  A National Prevention Strategy that supports healthy school environments will help protect the health of the millions of children and staff who spend their day in school. 

While the current draft of the National Prevention Strategy does a good job promoting healthy food, physical activity, and healthy environments, we believe the recommendations need to have a stronger focus on the role schools play in protecting and promoting health. 

We’re letting the National Prevention Council know what we think about the drafted recommendations by submitting our  comments on their website; we encourage you to share your comments as well.  Should the recommendations have a stronger focus on schools? Should they include more details about the importance of healthy food? Should they better address the impact of the environment on our health?

You can read the draft recommendations and let the National Prevention Council know what you think online at www.hhs.gov/news/reports/nphps.html.

Submit your comments by this Thurs., January 13 to make sure your voice is heard.  This is a welcome opportunity to shape the direction of our nation’s health strategy.