Health and safety is a basic human need, at any age. This is why Yavapai Healthy Schools (YHS) is making sure this goal is met in Yavapai County schools.
In 2015, a coalition of 15 organizations was established to ensure schools have the opportunity to improve our children’s health. And, YHS was born.
Carol Lewis, Community Health Education Section Manager at Yavapai County Community Health Services said, “The initial goal [of the coalition] was to recognize schools that promote health education.”
A menu of programs and activities was created at that time, which included, for example: nutrition, physical activity, substance abuse prevention and wellness. Yavapai County Community Health Services (YCCHS) and North Star Youth Partnership are two members of the coalition. Their areas of focus include the following:
- YCCHS – Focuses on programs related to tobacco/drug prevention, specialized nutrition, physical activity, hygiene, body art, and friendship/bullying.
- North Star Youth Partnership – Works on leadership and mentoring programs including Go Girl Go!, which is designed to educate girls and promote physically active to prevent risky behaviors.
“Health educators struggle acquiring the time commitment to provide health education topics during the school day,” Ms. Lewis said.
For convenience, a website was created so teachers could go to just one resource to choose the exact topics they want to teach to their particular students at their specific school.
“Rather than 10 different programs trying to talk to administration,” Ms. Lewis said, “we created one website to promote all programs.”
It was determined that most of the schools had some kind of wellness education program in place, but they were not able to measure their effectiveness. YHS helps schools do this. Many of the schools still want resources to help with certain topics, such as bullying. Schools were also interested in starting up school gardens. YHS has education on these and many other health topics.
If a school wants to be part of this program, it is very simple. The YHS website lists all of the available services. There is a short application to complete. Schools that meet certain criteria can earn a Healthy Schools award and are recognized via YHS and the media. They are also eligible for a monetary award and receive a banner for their school as well.
“I would like people to know the importance of promoting schools that make health and safety a priority. We will see schools recognized for being an ‘A’ school for academics but we want people to recognize schools that make health a priority,” Ms. Lewis said.
Parents should also know about this program so they can encourage the schools their children attend to join. There is a section on the YHS website for parents to research the program.
“People need to know the connection between health and academics,” Ms. Lewis said. “If a school promotes health, they are most likely to show an increase in academics.”