By John Henry Ledwith | December 9, 2014
One of the truly rewarding things about the work I do is that I get to interact with school professionals on both the local and national levels.
When I talk to people in the local school world—teachers, health educators, administrators—I often hear questions such as:
- Where can I go for more information on school health?
- Whom can I talk to about the health issues in my school community?
- Where can I engage in conversations that will help me grow as a health educator and contribute my own ideas to the process?
Of course, ETR is always available to respond to and answer any questions we can. But the real key is building your network with other classroom professionals. And there are many ways to do that.
If you’re not already a member of an organization focused on school health education, I’ve got to say join one. The educators and administrators I know tell me it’s simply not possible to overestimate the value of becoming an active member and participant. My own experience bears this out 100%.
Line up, sign up and enlist today! Join an association that reflects what you do. There are great organizations around the country that provide a wealth of (often free) information and professional development opportunities geared toward school settings.
Here are a few quick suggestions.
ASHA: The American School Health Association is a national organization that holds an annual meeting large enough to create dynamic synergy, but small enough to offer opportunities to truly learn and participate.
SOPHE: Society for Public Health Education is an organization that promotes healthy behaviors, healthy communities and healthy environments. Its network of local chapters allows for interaction in your own community. Its national meeting brings together many of the most knowledgeable leaders in the field. They’ve recently re-comitted their focus on the K–12 classroom. This group looks to be moving forward in some excellent and exciting directions.
SHAPE America (AAHPERD): Society of Health and Physical Educators is effectively answering the question, “What’s PE got to do with health education?” With so many site-based health education lessons being delegated to the PE Professional on a campus, it’s fabulous to see renewed vigor around health education support within this organization. With over a century of history and a chapter in every state, this is the largest organization of professionals involved in school-based physical education and physical activity. They are dedicated to teaching and promoting active, healthy lifestyles.
APHA: American Public Health Association is the largest public health organization in the world. Their annual meeting is huge, and so filled with opportunity that, without serious planning, it can be overwhelming. But they’re wise enough to break the focus into sections. The School Health Education Services (SHES) section is the one I recommend for school professionals.
AHG: The Alliance for a Healthier Generation was founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation. This agency’s goal is to create systemic change around obesity and nutrition. They believe in working with schools and communities to help make the healthy choice the easy choice. This group is more of a support and advising agency than the other groups on this list. Reach out to them to see what support and advice you can find in your own neighborhood. You may find your entire site transformed.
The dedication and demands of classroom, school and district work often leave school professionals feeling isolated in their work and at their sites. Interaction in national organizations with regional representation is transformative. Participation in the wonderful events these organizations host offers an opportunity to build an effective network. You’ll be able to access and share information that makes a genuine difference in the lives of your students.
Let me know what group, organization or agency has made a difference in your work. I would value hearing from you.
And enjoy the day! It’s a health best practice!