It is also the very heart of the reason why Bladen County Schools and Bladen HealthWatch will be observing September as "School Health Month."
Bladen County suffers from staggering rates of diabetes, heart disease and cancer among its citizens. These diseases, referred to as chronic diseases, are among the biggest killers in Bladen County. In many cases, these chronic diseases are preventable through education, and lifestyle and behavior changes. Bladen Health Watch's HealthWatchers at School program is working in partnership with Bladen County Schools to provide that education and to support positive changes in students' lifestyles and behavior.
The HealthWatchers at School program, funded by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and Duke University Medical Center's Department of Community and Family Medicine, seeks to provide information on improving nutrition, increasing physical activity and reducing tobacco use with the hope that our students will grow up into healthier adults.
During the month of September, Bladen County students in grades one through four will have their height, weight, far vision and overall dental health screened by staff according to Susan Kornegay, Bladen County School Nurse.
When an abnormal result is found on a student's weight, vision or dental screening, a referral for follow-up is made to the school nurse.
"During October, Debra Brisson, also a school nurse, and I will follow-up on the referrals made to us," said Kornegay.
"We are focusing our efforts on the first through fourth grades since pre-k and kindergartners have had a pre-enrollment physical. We really want to close the gap between students who excel academically and those who do not," Kornegay explained.
"We so appreciate our teacher's assistants who complete those initial screenings-they truly are our eyes and hands with these screenings. Their help is invaluable!"
Roberta G. Doering, past president of National School Boards Association, has said, "Education in today's school must focus on the needs of the whole child. The link is clear: physical, mental and emotional good health in childhood enables life-long learning that results in a productive and inquiring citizenry."
With this in mind, Bladen County Schools and Bladen HealthWatch's HealthWatchers at School program want to know: Are you watching your child's health?