Letter: Kids need health lessons, examples

The lessons learned in school must be reinforced The lessons learned in school must be reinforced at home. It is up to us, as parents, to make sure that lessons for good health remain a constant in our children's lives by our good example. Photo Credit: Tribune Media Services / Donna Grethen

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In response to "Elevate health class in grade school" [Letters, Jan. 24], I applaud the writer's insight and concern about the state of our children's health, where it seems to be heading, and the need for serious intervention and education to prevent a future population of unhealthy, unproductive adults.

However, here is some good news to share, especially with those whose children attend one of 50 schools in Suffolk County where teachers have been trained to provide the HealthSmart program. This is comprehensive health education for kindergarten through grade 12 provided by the Office of Health Education in the Suffolk County Department of Health Services' Division of Preventive Medicine.

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The HealthSmart curriculum is based on recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control. It addresses the most risky behaviors that can lead to morbidity and mortality in children and adolescents: tobacco, alcohol, and drug use, as well as issues of poor nutrition, self-inflicted injuries, mental health, bullying, unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, and lack of physical activity.

Mental health lessons help children identify stressors, seek help when needed and recognize problem behaviors -- so important in light of recent school tragedies.

More than 2,500 teachers are using all or parts of this curriculum, and information is sent home to enable parents to discuss these important lessons with their children. The lessons learned in school must be reinforced at home. It is up to us, as parents, to make sure that lessons for good health remain a constant in our children's lives by our good example.

Patricia Bishop-Kelly, Huntington Station

Editor's note: The writer is retired from the county's Office of Health Education.

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