Financially difficult times require difficult choices. We all know that. With further state and federal budget cuts, Maine schools are preparing to make nearly impossible choices. We all want what is best for the students and residents of our communities, but at a time that can be difficult to define.
How can we find further savings in budgets that already feel like "bare bones" for many years? How do we give our children the education we are entitled to and have less financial capacity to maintain programs that are now considered "enrichment"?
Healthy Lincoln County is one of 27 local community coalitions across the state that work to strengthen communities by supporting people of all ages in creating better public health environments and making healthier lifestyle choices. We want to weigh in on the importance of maintaining health education, to ensure not only the immediate well-being of our children, but also the future well-being of our communities.
Why should we care about health education? Health education builds students' knowledge, skills, and positive attitudes about health. Health education teaches about physical, mental, emotional and social health. It inspires students to improve and maintain their health, prevent disease, and reduce risky behavior.
As a result of positive changes in behavior, students take fewer risks: alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, injury prevention, mental and emotional health, nutrition, physical activity, prevention of diseases and sexuality, and family life.
Health education promotes learning in other disciplines. Studies have shown that reading and math scores of students receiving comprehensive health education were significantly higher than those who did not. In general, healthy students learn better. They have higher attendance, better grades, and perform better on tests. "
Without basic health literacy, societies are at a huge disadvantage economically and culturally. It may seem like a stretch to compare Maine communities in poor or developing countries where knowledge about health and healthcare is not widespread in the US, but ask yourself, where did you go about health and wellness Is how to live
Most of us who are now adults learn not only from their parents, but about the human body, health and disease, physical fitness and nutrition in school. If there will be a Maine community in 5 years, 10 or 20 years, will we not ensure that our children learn about their health and understand how to preserve it? If we do not prioritize health education at the core of our most basic skills — teaching in school, the financial and social tolls of disease and addiction will continue to destroy our society. Mathematics and reading are necessary, but so is our health.
Finally, ask yourself this question: If we do not provide health education in schools, what are our children learning from common culture?
They are surrounded by a culture that is causing the childhood obesity epidemic in children who are abusing drugs at an early age, and advertise tobacco products specifically to appeal to them. If we do not deliver those cultural messages with information and support so that good choices can be made, we endanger both children and their parents, who are trying to raise children who are healthy, producers Will be productive.
Yes, financially difficult times require difficult choices and schools have to face a lot. But do not create more problems for all of us by cutting health education to save us something in the short term.