Online Program

Building an infrastructure that promotes environmental health for a large urban school district: Creating and sustaining policies that ensure school staff and communities are equipped with the tools, skills and resources necessary to support healthy school environments for children

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 5:10 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Laurita Kaigler-Crawlle, MS, Public Health Policy and Practice Department, Health Resources in Action, Boston, MA
Tolle Graham, MassCOSH, Dorchester
Al Vega, MassCOSH, Dorchester, MA
Jill Carter, EdM, MA, Health & Wellness, Boston Public Schools, Boston, MA
Maureen Starck, MED BSN, RN, NCSN, Health and Medical Services Department, Boston Public Schools, Dorchester, MA
The well-being for children in Boston is significantly affected by asthma and other environmental health related concerns. Boston has one of the highest asthma prevalence rates in Massachusetts at 10%. Asthma is the number one chronic condition treated in Boston Public Schools (BPS) and with an overall asthma rate of 15% BPS students have one of the highest incidences of asthma related sickness in MA. In Boston, rates of asthma hospitalization and emergency department visits for children are 2-3 times the statewide average. In the BPS 2011 Asthma Report, BPS Health Services department reported that 8,157 (15%) of BPS students have asthma, of which, on average, 5% are using 1000 doses of prescribed rescue medication per month. Such data indicates that many BPS students have uncontrolled disease, and thus are “frequent flyers” to the school nurse office due to asthma related illness, potentially impacting their overall physical, academic, social, and emotional development. This presentation will explain how the Boston Healthy Schools Taskforce (BHSTF) has advocated for and acheived the creation of district wide environmental health policy that builds the capacity of BPS educators and families to implement and sustain strategies that reduce children's exposure to air pollutants, toxic cleaners and disinfectants as well as pests and pesticides in school settings– all factors that cause or exacerbate asthma, allergies, and other respiratory problems among children. BHSTF is a city wide environmental health coalition that supports overall coordination of care for BPS students with asthma Key capacity building activities that will be discussed include the provision of training and technical assistance for BPS staff and families, the development of environmental health policy and school based committees that receive technical assistance to implement and sustain evidence based public health strategies that improve indoor air quality and reduce toxic exposures district wide for BPS.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Environmental health sciences
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate the value of developing environmental health policy for a large urban school district in order to increase the capacity of school communities to implement strategies that improve children’s health through training, technical assistance and the promotion of best practices for children’s environmental health. Discuss how to create sustain and measure sucess in the implementation environmental health policy for a large urban school district and how by putting targeted resources for addressing environmental hazards in place, health disparities can be addressed in adults and children.

Keyword(s): Asthma, Environmental Health Hazards

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Director for the Massachusetts Asthma Action Partnership (MAAP, a MA state wide asthma coalitio). I am also Healthy Schools Director for Boston Healthy Homes and Schools Collaborative a partner in the Boston Healthy Schools Task Force. I lead development, implementation and evaluation of strategies that contribute to local and state wide efforts to reduce exposure to environmental hazards and improve indoor air quality for children disproportionately impacted by asthma related health disparities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.