ATLANTA (June 1, 2022) – The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) was awarded a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Healthy Schools Branch to improve the health and well-being of children, adolescents, and school staff in communities that are underserved, economically marginalized, and disproportionately affected by chronic diseases and chronic disease risk factors. This project will partner and collaborate with other programs in the Center for Advancing Healthy Communities.
“This funding will provide an opportunity to better support students’ and school employees’ physical and mental health, which will ultimately contribute to improved health and academic success,” said Jennie Hefelfinger, Vice President of the Center for Advancing Healthy Communities at NACDD. “Children and adolescents spend most of their time at school, so schools are the ideal settings for kids to adopt lasting healthy behaviors that also support emotional well-being.”
NACDD has more than 15 years of experience in school health programming and capacity building, and more than 30 years of experience providing innovative technical assistance to state, and territorial Chronic Disease Units. The new project will further expand NACDD’s expertise in this area.
In partnership with Child Trends and Mental Health America, NACDD will support up to 10 CDC-funded state education agencies, and up to 25 local education agencies as well as State Health Departments in developing, implementing, and evaluating evidence-based policies, practices, and programs that support the emotional well-being of students and school staff.
During the five-year project, NACDD and partners will focus on communities that experience health and educational disparities, with priority given to historically oppressed and marginalized racial and ethnic minorities, students receiving free and/or reduced lunch, and people with disabilities.
NACDD will leverage a National Technical Assistance Partnership comprised of national and state school health and emotional well-being experts who will inform the development and delivery of professional development, training, and technical assistance; will disseminate evidence-based tools and resources; and will support implementation of evidence-based school health policies, practices, and programs using the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child framework.
It has become clear over the past few years that the COVID-19 pandemic greatly exacerbated pre-existing health challenges among school-aged children and staff. The social, emotional, and mental well-being of school administrators, staff, and students have been negatively impacted due to social isolation, anxiety about school closures, lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, and other factors. Rising obesity rates across all age groups due to limited access to healthy choices and healthy behaviors also is a concern.
“In public health, we know that long-term gains are made early in life – when people have the chance to increase their educational attainment, and have healthy options where they live, work, and learn, everyone can become healthier,” says NACDD CEO John W. Robitscher, MPH. “Schools are one of the most important places we can make an impact on reducing chronic disease burden in our communities into the future, and we are proud to continue our long history of work in this area with this new funding and through our partnerships with Child Trends and Mental Health America.”
Learn more about NACDD’s previous school health work, including publications, tools, and other resources related to a variety of school health issues at chronicdisease.org/schoolhealth.
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