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Healthy Schools Awareness Events

  • Published: 2009-04-22 : Author: Healthy Schools Network
  • Synopsis: Events to build awareness of the importance of Healthy Indoor Environments in schools.

Main Document

Recent peer-reviewed, published reports have found that healthy indoor environments can reduce asthma and upper respiratory infections among school children, as well as promote personnel health, safety and productivity, and improve achievement. Asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness and a leading occupational disease of custodians and teachers.

EPA Administrator and National Leaders Celebrate Healthy Schools

National, state and local organizations in the US and Canada have scheduled events to build awareness of the importance of Healthy Indoor Environments in schools. Nearly 40 activities are features for National Healthy Schools Day April 27, 2009.

Spurred by widespread concerns about children's environmental health in schools and the need to have constructive actions to promote healthy indoor environments, governmental entities, child health advocates, and other not for profits in the US and Canada are jointly celebrating National Healthy Schools Day this year.

Nationwide there are nearly forth activities planned in twenty-one states plus Canada where a new national network of organizations will celebrate Healthy Schools Day Canada this year for the first time.

Lisa Jackson, Administrator, US EPA

"We're proud to join so many dedicated partners in sponsoring National Healthy Schools Day. EPA's mission is to protect the American public where they live, work and play - and that certainly includes protecting children where they learn. Our nation's children, parents, and educators deserve to know that their schools provide a safe and healthy environment. We encourage everyone concerned about healthy schools to use National Healthy Schools Day as a spring board to improve our school environment both indoors and out."

John D. Shaw, Next Wave Inc., President, Healthy Schools Network

"Administrator Lisa Jackson's remarks are a most welcome opening for National Healthy Schools Day this year, and we commend her for helping to ensure that our children are protected where they live learn and play. Every child should have an environmentally healthy school that is clean and in good repair. All schools can and should be healthy and green."

Carolyn Smith-Evans, President, National Education Association's Healthy Schools Caucus, Healthy Schools Network Board Member

"Children need healthy, clean places in which to learn and grow. All school occupants including teachers, educational support professionals, parents, administrators, and community members deserve to have wholesome, safe environments in which to work and teach. High Performance School Design, Green products and well maintained buildings help protect school communities by reducing chemical exposures and providing dry, properly ventilated, and often, beautifully constructed schools. When these elements are in place everyone's performance improves, test scores rise, and the health of occupants is protected. For too many years too many schools have gotten F's on their report cards for safe environments. It really is time for Green AND healthy schools to go to the head of the class and earn an A+ for accomplishing the changes that create environmentally safe and healthy schools."

Ramona Trovato, Board Member and National Policy Committee Chair, Healthy Schools Network

"Every day 20% of our population reports to school. Isn't it about time to require healthy learning environments for these 61 million Americans? Our children deserve it!"

Claire Barnett, Executive Director, Healthy Schools Network, said, "Recent research identifies both short term and long term financial benefits of healthy and high performance schools (HHPS). Going "Green" helps save the environment, while it generates short term financial savings that can pay for constructing and renovating HHPS buildings. A "Healthy" school environment improves attendance, attention, and achievement every day. This boosts our children's long term earnings even more-by a value over five times the short term energy savings. 'Healthy + Green = A+'- that's truly the long and short of it." Healthy Schools Network has over 12,000 members including policy advocates in all the states; its web-based guides reach thousands more annually.

Issue Background

In the US, there are approximately 54 million children and seven million adults (75% female) in the nation's 120,000 public and private schools. Recent peer-reviewed, published reports have found that healthy indoor environments can reduce asthma and upper respiratory infections among school children, as well as promote personnel health, safety and productivity, and improve achievement. Asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness and a leading occupational disease of custodians and teachers. Healthy indoor environments are also associated with improvements in children's learning and behavior, and therefore can yield even greater benefits and savings than energy efficiencies alone.

EPA has estimated that up to half of all schools may have problems with indoor air quality; the GAO has reported that 25% of schools are structurally unsound.

Sue Robertson, REFP, President, Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI)

"The Council of Educational Facility Planners (CEFPI) applauds the Healthy Schools Network for their outstanding coordination of National Healthy Schools Day events around the country, offering an opportunity to promote and celebrate healthy and productive learning environments. CEFPI believes that reinforcing the connection between school facilities and student learning through School Building Week events such as National Healthy Schools Day creates greater public awareness of the importance of healthy school environments that enhance student and teacher performance and well being as well as community vitality. A healthy school environment combines the efforts of all the stakeholders. Today we have an opportunity to plan and design healthy, safe, high performing and sustainable buildings that will provide healthy, comfortable and nurturing environments for our children and our communities."

Laura Abulafia, Director, Environmental Health Initiative, American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD)

"AAIDD strongly believes that all people with IDD have the right to live, work, learn, worship and play in environments that are healthy and safe. Clearly, we must do all that we can to maintain good health and to prevent further disability from occurring by keeping toxicants out of the environment."

Dan Domenech, Executive Director, American Association of School Administrators

"As school system leaders, members of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) set the pace for academic achievement and student welfare. Our members know that the condition of school facilities can impact the ability of children to hit the mark. With the support of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), AASA has been addressing indoor air quality and healthy school environments for several years. Schools that are environmentally safe are key to student learning and student and staff health and well-being. AASA supports National Healthy Schools Day and encourages each of our 13,000 members to evidence their commitment to a healthy school environment every day."

Reference: Healthy Schools Network is a 501c3 not for profit national environmental health organization that has pioneered children's environmental health at school and won state and federal funds and laws to address school environments. It has won several national awards, and partners with US EPA and CEPFI to sponsor National Healthy Schools Day annually.

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