Schools for health

34 ADEC schools acknowledged for their health promotion initiatives


Abu Dhabi, June 6th 2012 - H.E. Mr. Mohammad Salem Al-Dhaheri, ADEC's School Operation Executive Director and Dr Omniyat Al Hajri, HAAD Director of Public Health & Policy have awarded 34  public schools for their participation and efforts in the "Abu Dhabi Schools for Health" Challenge.

The school-based program is a joint effort between ADEC and HAAD to support healthy student lifestyles and healthy school environments, while encouraging a wider base of schools to adopt health promotion initiatives that serve the specific health needs of their students and meet community expectations.

During a closing ceremony for the Abu Dhabi Schools for Health Challenge on Tuesday June 5th 2012 at the Paris Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi, each of the 34 schools was ranked and awarded a bronze, silver or a gold status depending on their efforts in promoting the overall health and wellbeing of students and their local communities.

Out of the 34 schools participating, nineteen schools are located in Abu Dhabi. , nine schools in Al Ain and Eastern Region and six schools in the Al Gharbiya Region.  Both boys and girls schools from Cycle 1 , Cycle 2 and Cycle 3 were involved in the program.

Each school was required to submit a self-evaluation report that summarized their health promotion initiatives and activities throughout the 2011/2012 academic school year.

During field visits conducted by a joint team from ADEC and HAAD, schools were asked to develop a school charter in health promotion which included a statement that identified the school's vision, mission and objectives in health promotion as well as areas of health to focus on during the current school year.

"During our school visits, representatives from each of the schools discussed challenges and the type of activities they've conducted in the past year in relation to health. These visits helped create an open dialogue with schools, identified best practices in school health promotion, and allowed us to learn more about the experience of schools in engaging students, parents and the community in support of healthy student lifestyles. We offered them tips and advice related to their initiatives when needed," said Dr. Amer Al Kindi, Health and Wellness Division Manager, P-12 Education Policy Sector, ADEC.

Dr Omniyat Al Hajri, HAAD Director of Public Health & Policy, explained that each of the 34 schools has been acknowledged for their participation and efforts, which encourages more schools across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to come up with creative health promotion initiatives to help benefit students and the community.

"Each of those schools has been required to attend workshops to familiarize them on the holistic approach to school health and to educate them on the concept of school based health promotion in all its aspects. We are delighted with the high standard of work that we have seen from the participating schools and the role model that they have played for other schools, and look forward to witnessing the participation of more schools in the program," said Dr. Omniyat.

Schools are better equipped to identify required areas of improvement in issues related to health and to take action at the school level through different education campaigns, added Dr. Ominyat.  "We strongly believe that health promotion initiatives are best planned and conducted at the school level. Research has shown that the whole school approach using the Health Promoting Schools Framework, on which the challenge is based, is effective in improving health ranging from physical activities and healthy eating to emotional health.  It is vital to involve parents and families in health promotion activities in order to improve dissemination of our health messages, support of the community to health promotion initiatives and to create a lasting positive impact on the health of students. More than often, health-related decisions are taken by the mother or the father, thus it is vital for parents to be involved in school health promotion initiatives."

The greatest challenge in the program was to follow a standardized procedure that suits students, teachers and parent's altogether.

Dr. Al Kindi concluded, "We are excited about the results of the program because it has helped us compare the different approaches in health promotion that were taken by schools that cater to students with different age groups and gender, based in communities of different levels of urbanization . Certain health issues that affect girls in Cycle 1 for instance do not necessarily affect girls in Cycle 3 or boys who are within the same age group. We want schools to be aware of the specific health needs of their students, to be aware of community expectations and to design their health promotion programs accordingly."