We are excited to join together with the Healthy Schools Network to celebrate National Healthy Schools Day this year! National Healthy Schools Day is a celebration of the progress we’ve made so far – but also a call to action to continue our work towards our shared goal of “a healthy school for every child”.
At Healthy Schools PA, we work collaboratively with parents, teachers, custodians, and school administrators every day as we strive towards this goal. Whether we’re teaching in classrooms, speaking at faculty and school board meetings, or providing technical support to school districts across Southwestern PA, we are constantly reminded of how special working in the school environment is. There are so many unique opportunities for folks to get engaged, get involved, and take action in their schools!
In September 2018, we released a first-of-its-kind report, “The State of Environmental Health in Southwestern PA Schools”, taking a deep look at how our schools were addressing environmental health concerns such as asthma, radon, lead, and air quality. This report highlighted the need for us to support our school districts at a federal, state, and regional level so that they have the resources and education necessary to make decisions about creating healthier school environments. We are tireless advocates for smart policy decisions that not only provide guidelines for schools to implement healthier practices, but that also provide appropriate resources for schools to enact real, long-lasting change.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Heinz Endowments, we have been able to impact change in schools across our region through our 1,000 Hours of Lead and Radon Free Schools and Childcares program. Working together with school districts, we have provided financial and technical support to schools and childcare centers to test and remediate the lead and radon hazards in their buildings. We have partnered with schools every step of the way, from scheduling testing and creating a drinking water or radon sampling plan, to interpreting test results, to providing different options for remediation according to the EPA’s federal guidelines. What we’ve learned from these projects and these processes is that it takes collaboration across departments to make sustainable change. Change comes when we empower school community members to ask questions, get educated on the issues, and make informed decisions together, in an open, transparent process.
Next May, we are celebrating the 4th year of our annual Healthy Schools Recognition Program – highlighting the efforts individual schools and districts are taking to ensure that children have a healthy place to learn, grow, and play. If you or your school are taking steps to be green or healthy, we’d love to hear and celebrate your story and help you along your journey!
Every child deserves a healthy school. Join us as we make this a reality for schools across PA and across our nation!