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Education and Health Partnership Helping Students

October 04, 2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Education on Wednesday learned how collaboration is helping improve the health and wellness of schoolchildren.

Three years ago, the West Virginia Department of Education formed the coordinated school-public health partnership with the state Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health. The goal was to work together through the Regional Education Service Agencies (RESA) for the promotion of wellness through education, programs and services to schools and communities.

On Wednesday, Dr. Marian Swinker, commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health and State Health Officer, provided the West Virginia Board of Education with an update on partnership’s progress. Recent successes include: 

o   Distribution of one half million dollars in grants to schools for playground equipment

o   Increases in physical activity in schools across the state

o   Implementation of evidence-based pregnancy prevention curriculum

o   Active regional participation in the Governor’s Substance Abuse Task Force  

o   Utilization of tools for identifying and referring teens for substance abuse treatment

“This partnership has been a good example of how collaboration can serve the best interests of children,” said state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple. “Whether it’s physical activity, proper nutrition or health education, both of our agencies are committed to providing a healthy and safe environment for our students in public schools and we intend to continue to place greater emphasis on health literacy and physical fitness for all. The bottom line is healthy students have a greater capacity to learn and are ultimately more successful in school and life.”

The state DHHR provides funding through five programs in the Bureau for Public Health and Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities to support eight regional school wellness specialists, who provide technical assistance in priority areas such as bullying, suicide, substance abuse, teen pregnancy prevention, tobacco prevention, physical activity and local wellness committees at the county board of education level.

A variety of other services outside of the priority areas also have been addressed, including asthma education, child abuse education and implementing health education across the curriculum in public schools.

For more information, contact the Office of Communication at (304) 558-2699. 

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