Arizona is encouraging schools to be healthier
by Cary Bailen —
We have all read the statistics about childhood obesity and most of us are aware that it is but one problem requiring our intense focus. How do we begin to tackle this issue and the many challenges facing the well-being of our children today? The good news is that a few key Arizona agencies have begun working thoroughly and passionately to make a difference in children’s health, including the area of childhood obesity.
In March 2008, the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) received a grant funded by the Centers for the Disease Control’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (CDC-DASH) to develop and implement a statewide coordinated school health program. The administration of the AzCSHP is a collaborative effort between ADE and the Arizona Department of Health Services. AzCSHP will focus on three areas: physical activity, nutrition and tobacco use prevention.
As defined by the CDC, a coordinated school health program (CSHP) model consists of eight interactive components. Schools by themselves cannot — and should not — be expected to solve the nation’s most serious health and social problems. Families, health care workers, the media, religious organizations, community organizations that serve youth and young people themselves also must be systematically involved. However, schools should provide a critical facility in which many agencies might work together to maintain the collective well-being of young people.
The eight areas that the model consists of are:
- Health Education: A planned, sequential, K-12 curriculum that addresses the physical, mental, emotional and social dimensions of health.
- Physical education: A planned, sequential K-12 curriculum that provides cognitive content and learning experiences in a variety of activity areas such as basic movement skills, physical fitness, rhythms and dance, tumbling and gymnastics, games, aquatics, and team, dual and individual sports.
- Health services: Services provided for students to appraise, protect and promote health.
- Nutrition services: Access to a variety of nutritious and appealing meals that accommodate the health and nutrition needs of all students.
- Counseling and psychological services: Services provided to improve students’ mental, emotional and social health.
- Healthy school environment: The physical and aesthetic surroundings and the psychosocial climate and culture of the school.
- Health promotion for staff: Opportunities for school staff to improve their health status through activities such as health assessments, health education and health-related fitness activities.
- Family/community involvement: An integrated school, parent and community approach for enhancing the health and well-being of students.
Pat Cooper, the former superintendent of schools in McComb, Mississippi, is a recognized national expert on the implementation and outcomes of coordinated school health programs. He has shown that CSH can reduce absenteeism, raise reading levels, and reduce drop-out rates and teen pregnancies to name just a few of the amazing and powerful changes that can happen by supporting and following a CSH plan.
The time is now to confront childhood obesity, and make children’s health and well-being a priority. A phenomenal place to start is Coordinated School Health. Learn how you can be a part of this powerful and effective model.
See: www.aasa.org/publications/saarticledetail.cfm?ItemNumber= 1820&snItemNumber=950&tnItemNumber=951 for info.
Cary Bailen is president of Kidz for Life, Inc. 602-751-0012, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.kidzforlife.com.
From the Archives of AzNetNews.