We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Karen Remley, the Executive Director/CEO of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), as the keynote speaker for our annual Change for Good Luncheon. Change for Good is our opportunity to share our past year’s triumphs and progress and to look ahead to all that we have yet to accomplish in our goal of ensuring that all children have access to a healthy school environment.
In addition to her role at AAP, Dr. Remley also served as chief medical officer of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Virginia and as commissioner of health for the Commonwealth of Virginia. She earned her medical degree at the University of Missouri in Kansas City and completed her pediatrics residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital-Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Dr. Remley has a unique perspective about the role schools play in both keeping students healthy and serving as a point of service for healthcare. “Schools are where students spend the majority of their time during the day,” she says. “They have a significant impact on maximizing health or not having a healthy environment.”
The challenges facing children’s health have changed, Dr. Remley says. “We have moved from a time when children primarily were stricken ill and passed away from complex infectious diseases and cancers,” she says. “Thankfully, we have been able to—through vaccines and increased care and development around cancer—save children’s lives. Now what really impacts children is the diseases of society, toxic stress, obesity, asthma and the environmental health of communities.”
And schools are in a great position to mitigate many of the conditions that now affect children. AAP supports schools through its Council on School Health and by releasing policy recommendations regarding health in schools. Most recently, AAP released a policy statement recognizing the importance of school nurses and recommending that every school have at least one full-time school nurse.
The chairperson of the Council on School Health also serves on the steering committee of the National Collaborative on Education and Health, a group we co-convene with Trust for America’s Health (TFAH). The Collaborative works to support schools in creating the conditions of student health and wellness so that all students have the opportunity to learn and thrive.
Finding ways to collaborate with the education sector is important to AAP, Dr. Remley says, because of the importance of the work. “Making sure that students have access to health and fun and fresh food is very important to their long-term wellbeing, not just what they eat today but how they learn to eat throughout their life continuum,” she says.
We’re so excited to have Dr. Remley share more of her thoughts about school health at our Change for Good Luncheon on July 20. Learn more about the Change for Good Luncheon and buy your tickets to attend this special event.