Board of Health Trains Parents to Influence School Health

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DECATUR, Ga. – Parents at three DeKalb County elementary schools will soon aid in setting the environment to implement school wellness policies focusing on physical activity and nutrition.

The DeKalb County Board of Health, in partnership with the DeKalb County School District’s Office of Family Engagement and with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), developed and is supporting the Parent Health Ambassador Program at Columbia and Toney elementary schools in Decatur and Stoneview Elementary in Stonecrest. The CDC funds are a Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant.

The program followed a train-the-trainer model, with parents from each school trained as master trainers who will then train other parents at their school. The goal is to increase parental mobilization related to physical activity and nutrition needs in the schools, ultimately creating a network of well-informed, engaged parents working in and on behalf of the schools to develop school wellness policies.

“As parents advocate for their children’s education, we hope they will also advocate for their children’s health,” said DeKalb County District Health Director S. Elizabeth Ford, M.D., M.B.A. “They can work with teachers and administrators to ensure that schools are encouraging physical activity and good nutrition. Together, parents and schools can help children form healthy habits that will last a lifetime.”

According to the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, research shows that parent engagement in schools is closely linked to positive student behaviors, improved academic achievement and enhanced social behaviors. Together, these reduce the risk of unhealthy behaviors.

For more information on the Parent Health Ambassador Program and other DeKalb County Board of Health wellness initiatives, call 404-508-7847 or e-mail dekalb.ocdp@dph.ga.gov.