the health of schools and playgrounds
should be environmentally healthy places for children to learn, for
teachers to teach, and for other school employees to work. Our society
suffers when schools become so run-down and toxic that going there becomes
a stress to the body’s systems rather than an inspiration to young
playgrounds and parks should be places where kids can play without risk of
being exposed to pesticides, contaminated play structures or other health
hazards. Parents should not have to worry about much more than sprained
ankles and scuffed kneecaps when they let their kids play in such places.
simple fact is that while parents can exert control over the products they
use in their homes, the same doesn’t necessarily true for the schools
and playgrounds where their children spend much of their time.
day, school and playground environments expose children to high levels of
toxic substances, from industrial strength pesticides to harmful building
and cleaning materials to playground equipment made of arsenic-treated
connection between students’ performance and the school environment is
something that should not be ignored. The National Academy of Science, the
American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association and
others agree that children are uniquely vulnerable to environmental health
hazards. “In a time where so much of our focus is on improving
education, it should be paramount that we act to improve the quality of
the physical learning environment,” says Rochelle Davis, Executive
Director of Generation Green.
parents know and speak out about the environmental health issues of their
children's schools and playgrounds, the more they can be certain that they
are keeping their children as safe as possible.
more that Generation Green and other groups (like the American Lung
Association, American Public Health Association, Children’s Health
Environmental Coalition, Healthy Schools Network and National Association of School Nurses) join their voices together to call for improvements to
school infrastructure nationwide, the sooner that Congress, school
districts and other forces will take action.
example of how change can occur in our individual states and communities
is found in the Illinois Healthy Schools Campaign, which Generation Green
helped organize and launch. To find out more about that campaign, as well
as school environmental health issues in general, click
useful place to visit is the Web site for the Child Proofing Our
Communities Campaign, which is coordinated by the Center for Health,
Environment and Justice. The campaign deals with issues related to
protecting children from exposures to environmental health hazards in
schools and other childcare settings. Visit that site by clicking