Introduction and Background

  • Cheryl Vince Whitman
  • Carmen Aldinger


Addressing the health of children in schools is not a new practice. Throughout the twentieth century and even earlier, many schools have found ways to provide health education and health services to the young people they reach. What have been new are a more holistic definition of health and the deliberate application of a public health approach to promote health in the school setting. The founders of the World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,” further recognizing that “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being” (World Health Organization [WHO], 1948). The drive to apply public health strategies more deliberately in the education sector gained strength from the declarations made in WHO's Ottawa Charter of Health Promotion, 1986, which integrated ideas about health promotion from Canada and from WHO's European office (Young, 2005). The charter stated that “health is created and lived by people within the settings of their everyday life: where they learn, work, play and love. Health is created by caring for oneself and others, by being able to make decisions and have control over one's life and circumstances, and by ensuring that the society one lives in creates conditions that allow the attainment of health by all its members” (WHO, 1986).


World Health Organization School Health Public Health Approach Mental Health Promotion Youth Violence Prevention 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Education Development Center, IncHealth and Human Development ProgramsNewtonUSA

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