April 27: National Healthy Schools Day

(Mom Goes Green is EXHAUSTED from chaperoning a Girl Scout Brownies weekend camping trip… {where do they get that energy and the ability to function on such little sleep?!?} so today’s post is by guest writer Janelle Sorensen.  Today is National Healthy Schools Day… enjoy the great info!)

When my husband and I first toured schools to find the one we wanted to enroll our daughter in, I’m sure I was silently voted one of the strangest parents ever. Why do I feel I was secretly endowed with this title? Because every room and hallway we were taken through, I sniffed. A lot. And, according to my husband, I wasn’t terribly discreet.

kids-playingI didn’t have a cold or postnasal drip. And, I’m not part bloodhound. I was simply concerned about the indoor air quality. My daughter was (and still is) prone to respiratory illnesses and I wanted to be sure the school she would be attending would support and protect her growing lungs (in addition to her brain). For many air quality issues, your nose knows, so I was using the easiest tool I had to gauge how healthy the environment was.

While air quality is a significant issue in schools (the EPA estimates that at least half of our nation’s 120,000 schools have problems), parents are also increasingly concerned about other school health issues like nutrition and the use of toxic pesticides. Many schools are making the switch to healthier and more sustainable practices like green cleaning, least toxic pest management, and even school gardening. What they’re finding is that greening their school improves the health and performance of students and personnel, saves money (from using less energy, buying fewer products, and having fewer worker injuries among other things), and also helps protect the planet. It’s truly win, win, win.

To highlight the issue, the Healthy Schools Network coordinates National Healthy Schools Day.  This year, over three dozen events will be held across the country (and more in Canada) on April 27th to promote and celebrate healthy school environments.

What can you do? Healthy Schools Network recommends simple activities such as:

  • Adopting Guiding Principles of School Environmental Quality as a policy for your School
  • Distributing information related to Green Cleaning or Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
  • Writing a letter or visiting your Principal or Facility Director to ask about cleaning products or pest control products
  • Walking around your school: looking for water stains, cracks in outside walls, broken windows or steps, and overflowing dumpsters that are health & safety problems that need attention. Use this checklist.
  • Writing a Letter to the Editor of your local paper on the importance of a healthy school to all children and personnel

You can also help support the efforts of states trying to pass policies requiring schools to use safer cleaners. (Or, initiate your own effort!) There are good bills pending in Connecticut, Minnesota, California, Massachusetts, and Oregon. According to Claire Barnett, Executive Director of the Healthy Schools Network, the key pieces to promote on green cleaning in schools are:CB106473

  • Not being fooled by ‘green washing’ claims—commercial products must be third-party certified as green (to verify claims)
  • Understanding that green products are cost-neutral and they work
  • Learning that “Clean doesn’t have an odor.”

She encourages parents and personnel to tune into one of the archived webinars on green cleaning (like the first module for general audiences) at www.cleaningforhealthyschools.org.

The fact of the matter is that whether you’re concerned about the quality of food, cleaning chemicals, recycling, or energy use – schools need our help and support. Instead of complaining about what’s wrong, it’s time to help do what’s right – for our children, our schools, and our planet.

What are you going to do? There are so many ideas and resources. Find your passion and get active on April 27th – National Healthy Schools Day.

Additional Resources:

(Thanks, Janelle!  Visit Healthy Child Healthy World for more great resources and information! — MGG)

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3 thoughts on “April 27: National Healthy Schools Day

  1. The Girl Scout weekend…It must have been like being at a “Holiday” Party with a certain someone and Julie….all that energy and misbehaving.
    I love that piece…I don’t have children but this is information I will share with those that do. I would not think of anything like this but good lord it makes you think. Thanks for the information and Happy Spring!!

  2. Janelle,

    Thank you for bringing this important issue into the dialogue about our schools. As someone who is very concerned about nutrition, the increasing use of pesticides and the seemingly unavoidable presence of GMO’s, I am so pleased to see that school communities are beginning to make some positive changes.

    I am writing today to share a resource with you and your readers which I am very excited to be a part of, The Equal Exchange Fundraising Program. This organic and fair trade fundraising alternative provides a wonderful opportunity for children to learn about the chocolate they are selling as well as the farmers who grow the chocolate. Children learn how their everyday choices impact the lives and lands of communities around the globe and how they can make a difference through what they eat and where they shop.

    The concerns you’ve voiced in your article present very real issues that are vital to the health and wellbeing of our educational communities and should be included as an important part of a child’s educational experience.

    To learn more about this socially and environmentally responsible fundraiser visit: http://www.equalexchange.coop/fundraiser

    Many thanks,

    -Leif

  3. Matt – thanks, bubba! The weekend was great! And the energy of those girls… amazing! They would have had Julie banging her head on the cabin door! — Please do share this info … Janelle wrote a great article! Happy Spring to you too! 🙂

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