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What Interventions by Schools May Promote Better Health in Children?

What interventions by schools may promote better health in children? Discuss the extent to which you think these interventions can be effective. This essay is going to explore three interventions made by schools that may promote better health in children; nutrition, health education and physical activity. Furthermore the essay will discuss the extent to which these interventions are effective by investigating the concept that locality has an impact on health and by using two case studies from the Understanding Health course book (Finlay et all 2009).

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Locality can be a factor in influencing the decisions an individual makes which ultimately impacts their health. In section 5. 1 of the Understanding Health course book an example is given with regard to obesity. If an individual wanted to lose weight through exercise but had no sports facility locally, their decision on whether to travel to another facility and if they could afford to do so would greatly impact their decision to exercise. But how does locality link into schools and health?

A report in Community care 2004 looks at a school in Padiham located in an area of high deprivation. A survey revealed that there was no physical activity programme and 82% of children were coming into school having not eaten any breakfast. As well as other initiatives, the headteacher introduced a breakfast club and activity lessons and play. The results are most powerful when looking at the SATS results the school achieved even with a high percentage of children in the special needs category.

So locality and school interventions balanced each other to make positive changes for the children’s health. The case studies used in section 5. 2 discuss two pupils attending schools in Scarborough (Kate) and Chennai (Lakshmi). The intervention each school provides concerning nutrition is similar because they offer a free meal but the implications on the health of both children vary. Kate is offered a choice of meal in a bistro type setting with fresh fruit and salad on offer whereas Lakshmi is provided with a standard meal of rice, lentils nd vegetables. Due to the locality of where the girls live and the social economic status of their families, this free school meal plays an important role in their health. Kate’s diet appears to mainly consist of highly processed fatty foods, which are linked to diseases such as diabetes or coronary heart disease, Lakshmi’s diet lacks in several nutrients and calories linked to anaemia and growth problems.

Kate’s school is trying to help combat the national obesity problem by offering healthier foods in an attractive setting whilst for Lakshmi the extra calories and nutrients in her meal may well improve her own life chances. Nutrition would be considered effective on the whole although there are instances where it could be considered negative such as the discontinuation of free school milk or vending machines in schools. Moving on to physical activity, Kate’s school has a range of appealing facilities available and are even open for community use.

She has atleast two hours physical education per week and is encouraged to take up more in spare time. For Lakshmi there are no sports facilities but a daily PE session in a dusty playground. Although what is on offer to both girls is vastly different, the schools intervention in offering physical activity still means both girls are getting the health benefits from being physically active for atleast 10 minutes per day therefore reducing the risks of obesity and having the release of hormones including the growth hormone and endorphins.

Physical activity can encourage competitive behaviour which some children thrive on, especially those that are not good academically. The less positive side of PE is the fact that some children are embarrassed about undressing in communal changing rooms and the issues of body shapes can be raised early on in childhood. The final intervention this essay will look at is health education. Kate’s school follows a National Curriculum by providing science and Personal, Social and Health Educations (PSHE) classes.

There is also a drop in centre run by the school to deal with issues relevant to young people. Lakshmi learns about nutrition, exercise and personal hygiene during her science classes. Health education is an effective intervention because it provides children with the knowledge they need about themselves, their bodies and their health needs. In Lakshmi’s case she provided with essential immunisations and has her growth monitored and is taught the benefits of breastfeeding and the importance of clean drinking water.

For Kate, the fact that she had the use of a drop in centre to receive advice and guidance on issues such as sexual health and drugs awareness will hopefully shape her decisions as a young adult towards better health choices. In summary, this essay has established three interventions made by schools, and has established that the effectiveness of these interventions is both positive and negative with locality playing an important part in an individual’s health & wellbeing.

Finlay et al states that “The influences on people’s health do not stop at the school gate or the neighbour boundary” which is a perfect summary to this essay showing whilst schools do intervene in children’s health the wider society shapes the health of an individual in a much more complex way. Words 879 References Finlay, L, Pearson, C and Ram, S (2009) Understanding Health, Milton Keynes, Open University

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