We Launched Our New Healthy Schools Program: Here’s What We Know So Far

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), many of today’s and tomorrow’s leading causes of death, disease, and disability—including cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung diseases, depression, violence, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS/STI— can be significantly reduced by preventing six behaviors:

  • Tobacco use
  • Behavior that results in injury and violence
  • Alcohol and substance use
  • Dietary and hygienic practices that cause disease
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Sexual behavior that causes unintended pregnancy and disease

These six interrelated categories of behavior are often initiated during youth and fostered by social and political policies and conditions. Research shows that when schools support the health of their students and staff by providing opportunities to stay physically active and access to healthy foods, it decreases rates of absenteeism and helps to establish life-long healthy behaviors.

What our network knows so far

As an associate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Public Health Associate Program, I assisted NNPHI in identifying the network’s capacity within the area of school health. With such a large network of organizations, it is difficult to maintain a current understanding of the full range of work that each member organization is engaged in over time. A deeper understanding of the range of school health programs and expertise in our network will allow NNPHI to:

  • Quickly respond to funding and collaboration opportunities
  • Engage NNPHI members around topical interests
  • Facilitate collaboration and networking around school health within our network
  • Quickly identify subject matter experts on school health topics for federal agencies and other partners
  • Facilitate capacity building in the area of school health across our networks

To identify the network’s capacity of previous and current school health related programs and trainings, I conducted an environmental scan of NNPHI’s 40 member public health institutes’ and 10 public health training centers’ websites. As a result, 25 programs and 16 trainings related to school health were identified. Of the 25 programs identified, the majority focused on physical education (7), nutrition (6) and sexual health (3). Topics and were funded by CDC, GE Foundation, and W.K Kellogg Foundation. Other program topics included obesity (2), school based health center (2), tobacco (1), school nurse (1), immunization (1) and child development (1). The environmental scan was utilize to identify our strengths and capacity while applying for the CDC’s Healthy Schools program grant.

Public Health Learning Network trainings about school health

To capture the Public Health Learning Network‘s (and, by extension, NNPHI’s) capacity to educate publication health professionals about supporting healthy schools, I identified numerous trainings offered by public health training centers that would be relevant for the public health workforce interested in school health. These include:

Launching our new healthy schools initiative as part of the The National Collaboration to Promote Health, Wellness, and Academic Success of School-Age Children program

As I completed my assignment regarding school health, NNPHI applied to be one of four national organizations to receive FY 2016 funding from the CDC’s Healthy Schools program for The National Collaboration to Promote Health, Wellness, and Academic Success of School-Age Children program (FOA DP16-1601). NNPHI is the organization responsible for providing professional development and technical assistance opportunities for departments of health and education in all 50 states. Through this five-year cooperative agreement, NNPHI is collaborating with our member institute, Health Resources in Action (HRiA), to support CDC-funded grantees and their organization’s constituents to promote and implement proven policies, practices, and programs related to physical education and physical activity in schools.

Together with strategic partners and experts in the field, NNPHI and HRiA will:

  • Host an annual in-person Training of Trainers focused on the implementation of sustainable active school environments
  • Provide tailored technical assistance and virtual professional development opportunities for CDC-funded grantees
  • Disseminate new and existing tools and resources to all 1305 grantees and other school physical education and physical activity stakeholders
  • Engage strategic partners as Advisory Council members and subject matter experts to inform, enhance and expand effort

Learn More

NNPHI’s Active Schools page »

CDC’s Healthy Schools program page »

For more information about NNPHI and HRiA’s cooperative agreement activities, please contact Kelly Hughes, Associate Director of NNPHI Program Strategy.

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