|Building healthy school communities|
El Paso, TX, November 23, 2011 (PAHO/WHO) – There is evidence that when schools take action to address health needs of students, they can also meet performance goals and alleviate financial constraints. This is why the Paso del Norte Health Foundation in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization and various school districts from El Paso and Doña Ana Counties held the Child Health Summit on October 18th at the El Paso Museum of Art.
The Child Health Summit’s main purpose was to teach parents and school faculty and staff, to learn how they can improve school health, hear how school design impacts health, understand how to influence school sexuality education, learn how to stop dating violence, and how to change and implement school policies. All these ideas and policies can be implemented with help from a School Health Advisory Council or SHAC. A SHAC is a group of individuals representative of segments of the community generally appointed by the school district level. They provide advice on coordinated school health programming and its impact on student health and learning.
One of the ideas and recommendations from the SHACs in the Paso del Norte area is to combat child obesity. According to recent research, three out of ten kids in El Paso are obese and there are many factors that influence these results, one of these factors is the environmental factor. In an attempt to improve school design some cities around the country have begun using the multi-use property strategy known as Smart Growth. This initiative will improve a more accessible walking and biking safety routes, which will not only help the environment but will also, contribute to better health within the community. During the summit, participants received various documents such as review checklists and a policy summary that was elaborated using the Evidence Informed Policy Network or EVIPNet methodology so they can explore public policy options.
Furthermore, there are many misperceptions around schools of how sexual education should be teach to kids. “The goal is to focus on the students’ health not on sex education,” said David Wiley, from the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. “It is very important to teach based on science facts, not beliefs,” he added. A role of a SHAC is to provide advice and only make recommendations to the school district Board of Trustees; it is up to them what recommendations are adopted appropriately by each school district.
• Paso del Norte Health Foundation
• Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/ WHO)
• El Paso Independent School District
For more information please contact:
Lorely Ambriz, M.S.I.S, Knowledge Management & Communication Advisor
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) / A Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) United States-Mexico Border Office
5400 Suncrest Dr. Ste. C-4 El Paso, TX 79912
Office (915) 845-5950 Ext. 42523 / Cel (915) 449-3040 / Fax (915) 845-4361