Dear PTA:

The Arlington County School Health Advisory Board, which assists with the development of health policy in Arlington County Schools and the evaluation of the status of school health, health education, the school environment and health services, is convening its next meeting on February 19th, at 4pm at the Arlington Education Center building at 1426 N. Quincy Street.  We meet every other month on Wednesdays at 4pm in the Education Building.  In the alternating months the workgroups meet at a date and time they agree on together.
 
As parents interested in the health and well-being of your kids in school, this is your chance to help shape policy and procedure both in individual schools and across the district. Please contact the co-chairs (Katie Adamson at katie.adamson@ymca.net and Vera S. Cardinale VSC@aptrweb.org) to let them know of your interest and to answer any questions.
Attached is the powerpoint that we presented to the CCPTA recently, it includes 1) the Purpose of SHAB 2) Committee Members and Interests 3) Sampling of the School Health Data for Arlington County 4) Advancing Policy and Evaluation 5) Plans for 2014 .  Workgroups were formed based on a survey we conducted of the approximately 50 attendees we have had at our meetings, and they include:
1.      Assessment / Best Practices
2.      Wellness and Communicable Disease Policies
3.      Physical Activity
4.      Nutrition and Food Allergies
5.      Socio-Emotional Health
6.      Environmental Health and Asthma
 
Two of those workgroups need additional participants, namely the Socio-Emotional Health and Environmental Health and Asthma.  But all are welcome to join ANY of our workgroups.  Our co-chair of the Environmental Health and Asthma group, Sarah Bell, a Public Health Nurse Supervisor for Arlington County Public Schools, has asked that I send this note regarding the Environmental Health and Asthma workgroup:
 
As a part of the School Health Advisory Board, we would like to start a work group that would address environmental health in the schools with a focus on Asthma (our number one chronic disease in our students).  If you are interested in joining this group, please contact Sarah Bell, snbell@arlingtonva.us<mailto:snbell@arlingtonva.us>.  
 
Over the last five years, the number of reported chronic conditions has increased by more than 70% while the APS school population has increased by only 15%.  Asthma accounts for 44% of the chronic disease burden in Arlington Public School students and continues to rise yearly.
 
At the next meeting on February 19th, we have encouraged those workgroups that have met to bring the following:
 
 1.    Bring a best practice from your school that you are willing to share with SHAB.  Any background materials would be helpful such as policies that have been written to support practices (e.g. Healthy Birthdays, Farm-to-School).
 
 2.    Bring an update on your workgroup progress:
 
 ·        What do we know about this topic?
 ·        What do we want to do this year and next?
 ·        What are the next steps?
 ·        Are there bright spots / best practices to hold up?
 
 3.    We plan to use workgroup updates to start our strategic plan development.  So knowing what groups hope to accomplish in the first year and next would be very valuable.
 
Finally, it would be very helpful to us to know which of our schools have health and wellness workgroup/committee, as they could be an important partner for information sharing for our group and may want to send representatives to SHAB meetings.
 
Katie Adamson and Vera Cardinale