Take Action: Advocate Healthier Schools

Written by Tela Kayne

Child Going to SchoolThe 2009 National Sick Schools Report was recently published and the findings are disturbing to say the least.   68% of our nation’s schools were found to have at least one inadequate building feature, > 7% of children exhibited symptoms of ADHD, 8% of children suffer from Asthma, and as a result of the poor environmental conditions of the schools studied, an estimated 32,000,000 students are at high risk daily!

The Coalition for Healthier Schools offers the following suggestions for how you can help turn your child’s “sick” school into a healthy one!:


  • If your school will not appoint a healthy schools group, start your own.
  • As a group, pick the issues you want to work on. Your mission: every child and school employee should have an environmentally safe school.
  • Ask others to join. Investigate together and share information.
  • Write letters, keep copies, and track responses. See change happen.
  • Celebrate. Say thank you!
  • Common starting issues: Eliminating toxic products; stop bus idling; improve indoor air quality; reduce dampness and stop mold growth in the school.


  • See our Internet Resources for examples.
  • National Healthy School Training Binder: developed in 2002-2003 in cooperation with over a dozen national and state partners to help non-profits work effectively on school environmental health issues.

Your school has an environmental problem if:

  • the roof leaks.
  • the building is new or newly renovated and still smells like paint, varnish, or glue.
  • the building smells damp or musty.
  • your child has health or learning problems ONLY during the school day.
  • the building and grounds are routinely treated with pesticides.


  • Do you prevent pests without the use of chemicals?
  • How do you promote good indoor air quality?
  • Do you tell parents and employees in advance of hazards, such as renovation or pesticide application?
  • How do you respond to complaints?
  • Are the heating, lighting, ventilation, windows, doors, and buses energy efficient?

About Healthy Schools Network
Healthy Schools Network, Inc. is a 501 c3 national environmental health organization that does research, information, education, coalition-building, and advocacy to ensure that every child has a healthy learning environment that is clean and in good repair.

Founded in 1995,we have documented and publicized school environmental problems; shaped and won new education, health, and environmental policies; fostered dozens of local and state policy groups; won systemic federal and state reforms; and helped thousands of parents and schools make classrooms and buildings healthier through our EPA award-winning Healthy Schools/Healthy Kids Clearinghouse (Information and Referral Services).

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