Thrive by IU Health

February 25, 2022

IU Health and schools team up for lifelong health

IU Health Bloomington Hospital

IU Health and schools team up for lifelong health

Habits can be hard to break. You do them without really thinking about it, and they can affect your health for the better or the worse.

That’s why the IU Health Community Health team partners with local schools to encourage lifelong healthy habits in students.

Carol Weiss-Kennedy, IU Health Community Health Director, says the school years are when individuals start becoming more independent and begin to make decisions for themselves.

“We want to support health in all avenues in school—physical activity, food services, policy development, and curriculum updates,” says Weiss-Kennedy. “Our goal is to ensure evidence-based information is used to educate students and teachers for healthy lifestyles and around sensitive subjects such as sexual health, substance use disorder, tobacco cessation or prevention to name a few.”

Around 12,000 students in the Monroe County area are affected each year by this work, but the reach goes beyond the students.

“What children learn and focus on in school, filters home to families,” says Weiss-Kennedy. “Working with the schools affects the community as a whole in collaboration with key leaders from the fields of health, public health, education, and school health—to improve learning and health in our community”

The community health team also brings some healthcare opportunities to students.

“Many times, our services provide direct support to families such as vaccinations in schools for the student,” says Weiss-Kennedy, “Which means parents don’t have to take time off work to take their child to an appointment.”

Many students across the nation are currently behind on their required vaccinations, so the Monroe County Public Health Clinic—a partnership between IU Health Community Health and the Monroe County Health Department—will be helping fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms get them back on track. They will offer shots for Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis — whooping cough), hepatitis A, meningitis, and HPV (human papillomavirus).

“Improving health is important in many settings, such as school, home, out of school programs,” says Weiss-Kennedy. “IU Health Community Health is poised to support in all settings.”

Learn more about IU Health Community Health services.