Bringing comprehensive health education to the New York City Public Schools: a private-public success story.

Abstract

The New York Academy of Medicine has pioneered a far-sighted effort which successfully introduced two model health education curricula into the New York City Public Schools at both the elementary and middle school levels. The curriculums for kindergarten through sixth grades, Growing Healthy, are currently being used in 525 of New York's 625 elementary schools, and the curriculum for seventh and eighth grades, Being Healthy, is in place in 60 of 200 junior high schools. These curricula offer a comprehensive approach to health education that promotes emotional well-being as well as physical health by improving health behaviors, attitudes, and academic performance of students through hands-on and interactive activities which develop decision-making skills and the ability to make healthful choices. The program has met with ongoing success and expanding influence, as the result of several important factors. First, the New York Academy of Medicine took a leadership role in supporting a venture outside its own walls and became an active advocate for comprehensive health education in the public schools. The Academy's standing as a prestigious yet independent medical association brought influence to the organizing efforts and contributed the credibility needed to get the program off the ground. Second, the Division of Student Support Services of the New York City Public Schools gave strong acceptance and cooperation leading to ongoing financial support and institutionalization of the program. Added to that is the enthusiasm of teachers, administrators, and other in-school personnel who have made the lessons of Growing Healthy and Being Healthy meaningful by reaching hundreds of thousands of students across New York City. Another important factor is the oversight and longevity which has been provided by the unusual gathering of doctors, educators, public health specialists, funders, and city administrators who created an effective private-public coalition 15 years ago and have remained committed to working together. Last through its ongoing efforts, the Academy's Office of School Health Programs has stayed at the forefront of developments in health education. By continuing to evaluate their activities and by constantly integrating new materials into the existing curricular framework, they have demonstrated that a comprehensive health education program can be both meaningful to children and responsive to community needs by reflecting current public health issues and concerns.

Cite this paper

@article{Waller1993BringingCH, title={Bringing comprehensive health education to the New York City Public Schools: a private-public success story.}, author={J V Waller and Loren Goldman}, journal={Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine}, year={1993}, volume={70 3}, pages={171-87} }