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Guest opinion: Health education benefits students

September 1, 2017
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Dear Friends of Education,

On July 25, 2017, the Lee County School Board voted unanimously to adopt a Comprehensive Health Education Policy.

Why is school health important? Research shows when school districts and schools have effective health policies and practices:

- Student and staff absenteeism decreases

- Student concentration improves

- Student behavior problems are reduced

- Children and adolescents establish life-long health-promoting behaviors

Comprehensive Health Education is required by Florida Statute 1003.42 and supported in Goal 1, Objective 1.8 of Vision 2020: Increase Student Achievement by ensuring all students have access to health and wellness opportunities.

Health education helps students learn skills they will use to make healthy choices throughout their lifetime. It builds knowledge and positive attitudes about health. Health education teaches about physical, mental, emotional and social health. It motivates students to improve and maintain their health, prevent disease, and reduce risky behaviors. It results in positive behavior changes which lower student risk around:

- alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs

- injury prevention

- mental and emotional health

- nutrition

- physical activity

- prevention of diseases and

- sexuality and family life

Numerous studies have shown that healthier students also tend to do better in school. They have higher attendance, better grades, and perform better on tests, demonstrating a strong link between traditional literacy and health literacy.

To that end, The Florida Department of Education created a coordinated school health model designed to connect health with education. It's made up of eight components:

Lessons that instill healthy behaviors

Exercise for strong and flexible bodies

Appealing and healthy food choices

Reduction of illness and injury

Nurturing, safe, and supportive environment

Integration of mind, emotion and body

Network of health conscious staff modeling wellness for students

Good family and community relations

Over the last five years the Lee County School Health Advisory Committee (SHAC), along with the District Advisory and Lee County Health Department, reviewed compelling research, made presentations to the school board and submitted several recommendations advocating for a Lee County Schools Comprehensive Health Education Policy K-12. I am personally grateful to all SHAC members for their persistent and diligent work!

- Mary Fischer is the chair of the School Board of Lee County. She represents District 1, which includes Cape Coral.



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