nhs_btn_orToday is the 14th Annual National Healthy Schools Day, an effort spearheaded by the Healthy Schools Network to celebrate programs in schools that promote healthy environments.

Many environmental triggers in schools cause health problems for students. Some of the environmental triggers include poor ventilation, use of harmful pesticides, toxic chemicals, dust, mold and mildew. These triggers can cause students to experience coughing, eye irritation, headaches, allergic reactions and can exacerbate the incidence of asthma attacks. Currently, approximately 7 million children have asthma causing 13.8 million lost school days, and 14.2 million days of missed work by caretakers. The Childhood Asthma Leadership Coalition (CALC) has been working on raising awareness and improving public policy to reduce the burdens of childhood asthma.

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. Federal agencies recognize the importance of healthy environments in schools as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to give Indoor Air Quality Awards to schools improving their environments and the Department of Education designates Green Ribbon Schools, which recognize schools and districts where strides are being made in reducing environmental impact and costs, improving the health and wellness of students, and providing environmental education.

A host of organizations, including First Focus, and agencies dedicated to the environment, children, and education are sponsoring National Healthy Schools Day. 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.