April 8th marks the 12th annual National Healthy Schools Day, an effort spearheaded by the Healthy Schools Network to celebrate Indoor Air/ Environmental Quality programs in schools and promoting healthier kids. This year, National Healthy Schools Day will focus on the theme, “Don’t Panic” to draw attention to disaster preparedness in schools.

There are many environmental triggers in schools across the country that are causing health problems for students. Some of the environmental triggers include poor ventilation, use of harmful pesticides, toxic chemicals, dust, mold and mildew. In the long run, it is more cost-efficient to take preventative measures to reduce environmental triggers in schools than paying for the ramifications of poor environmental conditions. Costs can spiral when measures such as retrofitting a building or health costs for children in poor air quality environments are taken in the aggregate.

Through our commitment to children’s health, First Focus is a leader of the Childhood Asthma Leadership Coalition (CALC), a national, multi-sector coalition dedicated to raising awareness and improving public policy to reduce the burdens of childhood asthma. First Focus has been working with Coalition members such as the Healthy Schools Network on developing policies and practices to reduce indoor environmental triggers such as mold, toxic chemicals and dust to reduce the incidence of asthma in children.

A host of organizations and agencies dedicated to the environment, children, and education are sponsoring National Healthy Schools Day including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). State and National groups will host an array of activities throughout the nation including webinars, unveiling new guidance, symposiums, twitter chats and much more! To see what is happening in your area, check out this activities map.

For activity tools and suggestions, take a look at the updated Healthy Schools Day City-State Proclamation/Resolution toolkit, or Take Back Your IAQ! Tip Sheet. You can also visit National Healthy School Day’s website for more ideas and resources.