OAKLAND, Calif., Feb. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Kaiser Permanente announced today the launch of Thriving Schools: A Partnership for Healthy Students, Staff and Teachers, to create a culture of health and wellness in schools. As a health care organization, Kaiser Permanente delivers care to an estimated 2 million students, parents, staff and teachers across nine states and the District of Columbia.
"Schools are an important environment for supporting the health improvement of our members and communities. Thriving Schools will have a significant, lasting and positive impact," said Raymond J. Baxter, PhD, senior vice president, Community Benefit, Research and Health Policy. "With epidemic levels of obesity in America leading to chronic conditions, it is clear that we must act now to improve the environments in which we live, work, learn and play."
Kaiser Permanente already has a long-standing commitment to support health in schools and communities across the country. Thriving Schools will deepen and expand those partnerships and programs, aiming to make good health a part of everyday life for the estimated 50 million school-age children and more than 6 million school workers and teachers who spend their days at schools.
"For the past 25 years, Kaiser Permanente has worked to advance health in school communities through a wide variety of efforts. Thriving Schools will be a fantastic asset to these programs," said Arthur M. Southam, MD, executive vice president, Health Plan Operations. "Kaiser Permanente has been at the vanguard of creating wellness programs. We want to help create, nurture and sustain any efforts to address and improve health, and Thriving Schools is a great place to start for schools that are looking for help on how to get started and sustain work through tools and best practices."
All over the country, schools are under pressure to achieve. Research indicates healthier schools perform better. The Institute of Medicine recently identified the need to strengthen schools as the "heart of health." Better health, through changes such as increased physical activity and a decreased presence of unhealthy foods and beverages, can help students and employees perform better. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, students who are physically active and eat healthily receive higher grades. Regular physical activity also can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes as an adult, which is why it is so crucial to encourage healthy behaviors at an early age.
Thriving Schools engages the whole school community -- staff, teachers, students and families -- to champion change. Incorporating evidence-based, community health improvement practices from Kaiser Permanente and elsewhere, Thriving Schools will provide communities with tools and motivation to become champions for health. By helping students and their families, as well as staff and teachers increase their physical activity and eat better, schools can create a healthier culture for teachers and staff by making the healthy choices the easy choices.
The Thriving Schools website (kp.org/thrivingschools) serves as a starting point, offering free, ready-to-use tools and resources. It provides a place to share ideas and success stories, as well as spark creative innovation and change that can strengthen the health and well-being of schools.
Through partnerships with Safe Routes to School National Partnership, National PTA and others, Thriving Schools will support the efforts of parents, families, schools and community leaders across the country to encourage walking, bicycling and other physical activities to, from and at schools, and to advance the total health of school communities.
Visit kp.org/thrivingschools or follow @thrivingschools on Twitter to stay informed on new developments and activities in your area.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/newscenter.
SOURCE Kaiser Permanente