School health programs are methodologies that contribute to improvement and maintenance of the health of students and the school personnel. They are one of the most effective strategies that a country might use to avoid main social and health problems. School is a key institution next to family which provides vital experiences for young individuals for their responsibilities as productive, healthy adults. It plays a significant role in shaping students health-related behaviors. According to Building a healthier future through school health programs by Caroline Fisher, Peter Hunt, Lloyd Kolbe, and Howell Wechsler schools are the only institutions that have a unique opportunity to improve both the health status and education of youths throughout the country. It adds that the health problems facing youths nowadays are different from those of past years. Today, advances in vaccines and medications have greatly reduced the disability, illness, and deaths that once occurred due to infectious diseases among children. The authors of this article argue that nowadays the health of adults and young people is closely associated with the health-related behaviors they choose to adopt. Some of the health-related behaviors explained in the article include: use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, eating unhealthy foods, engaging in sexual activity that can cause unintended pregnancies, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections, and not be physically active.
It is crystal clear that school health programs play an essential role in enhancing healthy behaviors while promoting academic performance. The article explains that students that were enrolled in the school-based life skills training programs compared to other students were less likely to use alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. I believe this is true; this is because I have seen it work in a couple of students. In school, there are students with different personalities, the quiet ones, the cheeky ones, and the smart ones. There are those students who will always want to explore different things including smoking tobacco and marijuana so that they can be seen by their peers as the cool ones. I noticed that those students who keep themselves busy with life-skills training programs are often focused, and they will always have a different definition of being cool. This means that indeed these programs are effective and more life-skills programs should be introduced.
This article also describes practices countries should take into consideration when planning school-based programs and policies to help youths avoid behaviors that enhance their risk for chronic diseases and obesity particularly, the use of tobacco, inadequate physical activity, and unhealthy eating. These promising practices include the use of multiple strategies, implementation of CDCs school health guidelines, use of a program planning process to achieve health promotion objectives, and proper coordination of activities of health and education organizations to improve the health of youths. First, the document highlights the use of multiple strategies. In this part, the authors have recommended the implementation of holistic school health programs which would integrate the resources and efforts of health, education, and social service organizations to provide a complete set of services and programs which will, in turn, promote the health of the young people. As much as the existing school health programs are fully effective, I believe there is room for improvement. This is because some students are still involved in harmful health-related behaviors despite being exposed to the programs. Therefore, I fully agree with the authors that we need comprehensive programs which will properly exploit the eight components of a coordinated school health program.
Second, the authors of this article have suggested the implementation of the CDCs school health guidelines. According to them, these guidelines were developed after an extensive review of published research with the support from academic scholars and federal national and voluntary agencies. Therefore they provide specific recommendations to assist districts, states, and schools to implement effective school health policies and programs. CDCs school health guidelines highlight several procedures which promote healthy eating, physical activity and most importantly prevents tobacco use. The recommendations explained in these guidelines address curriculum development, policy development, direct interventions, instructional changes, professional development, environmental changes, and community and family involvement. The inclusion of these guidelines into the school health programs will bring objectivity in the sense that students will now understand what is expected of them.
Third, this article recommends the use of a program planning process to achieve health promotion objectives. According to its authors, the exact nature of a coordinated school health program is based on the unique requirements of the school population. They add that program planning process is fundamental to the success of school health programs. This is because it involves all stakeholders and defines priorities depending on the populations unique requirements. Moreover, it helps the designers of the school health programs to develop tactical plans based on measurable goals and realistic objectives. I am in total agreement with the idea of program planning process, because of its benefits. The same programs cannot be applied to all schools and expect the same results; this is because people are diverse and they respond differently. Therefore school health programs should be created to suit unique requirements of each school.
Finally, the document advises the states to coordinate activities of health and education organizations to improve the health of young people. It explains that education and health agencies share a common agenda of protecting and improving the well-being and health of youths. Therefore collaboration between these organizations should be promoted. It is essential to design a plan for improving student health which includes: parents, students, teachers, and the community. I believe the collaborative work among these four entities will yield more results and will have the major influence on students.
In my opinion, the authors have done a wonderful job in highlighting some of the critical issues about the school health programs and also providing the solutions to address these issues. However, what I dont see in the article is the impacts of diet on the growth, health, and intellectual development of youths. Dietary practices are sensitive matters that should be given top priority since it widely affects young people. Immediate effects of unhealthy eating behaviors include overweight, under nutrition, and iron deficiency anemia. Otherwise, the article is very informative and straight-forward. In conclusion, I think it is very imperative to know that well-being and health of youth and children must be prioritized at all times. However, urgent social and health challenges have undermined the collaboration among schools, families, communities, governments, and agencies in taking a holistic approach to school-based health promotion. A complete school health program includes a wide spectrum of services and activities which take place in schools and their surrounding societies. This kind of program will enhance the students health and enable them to develop to their full capabilities.
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