Since 1994, Public Education Network (PEN) has been working with local education funds (LEFs) to engage communities in developing comprehensive school health programs in public schools. The effort follows a research-supported eight-component model developed by CDC, the federal agency funding the initiative.
According to CDC, a comprehensive school health program must have the following elements:
- Health Education
- Physical Education
- Health Services
- Nutrition Services
- Health Promotion for Staff
- Counseling and Psychological Services
- Healthy School Environment
- Parent/Community Involvement
Using these criteria, PEN asked eight LEFs to survey and assess the level of school health programs in their communities and to create plans to either establish or enhance comprehensive school health programs. In 1995, six of these sites received three-year implementation grants.
In the 1999-2000 school year, five of the six sites received funds for assessing the capacity of their communities to address and sustain commitments to their comprehensive school health initiatives beyond the life of the PEN grants. These LEFs are located in Buffalo, NY; Lancaster, PA; McKeesport (MonValley), PA; Paterson, NJ; and Atlanta, GA. This edition of Lessons from the Field summarizes the work of four of these LEFs so that others might learn from their experiences.