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The Chinese University of Hong Kong Centre for Health Education and Health Promotion

Centre for Health Education and Health Promotion
The Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care
Faculty of Medicine
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Health Promoting Schools

Substantial evidence indicates that health is a major factor affecting the learning capacity of a person. In 1986, the World Health Organisation (WHO) first initiated the concept of health promoting schools (HPS) in the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. A health promoting school is a place where all members of the school community work together to provide students with integrated and positive experiences and structures which promote and protect their health. It embodies a holistic, whole school approach to personal and community health promotion in which a broad health education curriculum is supported by the environment and ethos of the school. The concept of HPS as a new initiative in school based management moves beyond individual behavioural change and to consider organizational structure change such as improving the school’s physical and social environment, its curricula, teaching and learning methods.

With the support of Quality Education Fund, the Centre for Health Education and Health Promotion (CHEP) launched a Professional Diploma Course in Health Promotion and Health Education in 1998 to provide training to people involved in school health and prepared the soil for setting up HPS in Hong Kong. Up to 2007, more than 800 teachers, school administrators, social worker and nurses completed the courses. The launching of the Hong Kong Healthy Schools Award Scheme in 2001 marked another significant milestone in the development of school health in Hong Kong. It is the first territory wide health promoting schools initiatives in Hong Kong recognised by WHO Western Pacific Regional Office(WHO/WPRO) for meeting the WHO’s standards. The Scheme provided a structured framework for the school development as well as a system of monitoring progress and recognition of achievement. Since its establishment, the Scheme has successfully laid the foundation of health promoting schools in over hundred local primary, secondary and special schools in Hong Kong. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, CHEP has been invited by the Hong Kong Education and Manpower Bureau (now Education Bureau) to conduct short courses on HPS for all schools in Hong Kong. More than 1,200 school principals and teachers from 700 local schools attended the courses and gained basic understanding on HPS concepts and implementation. It has also equipped schools in Hong Kong to face a major health crisis, SARS in 2003 and became better prepared for Avian Flu in 2004 and 2005.

To further the development of health promoting schools in Hong Kong, CHEP initiated HPS mentorship programme and extended the Scheme to pre-schools and launched the Healthy Schools (Pre-school) Award Scheme in 2005, developed the HPS Self-evaluation System in 2007. Children and young people are facing many challenges and crisis on their way of growing up to be a healthy, responsible and productive citizen. Over the years, CHEP has worked collaboratively with various community partners to develop various pilot projects applying the concept of HPS to address the needs of school-aged students and support schools in fostering a health promoting school environment. The pilot projects included the “Colourful and Bright Fruits and Vegetables Project” ,“Promoting and Strengthening Resilience in Schools” ,“Smart Kids Fitness Project” and “Capacity Building for the Ethnic Minorities and the Chinese New Immigrants Towards Social Inclusion”.

Evaluation results demonstrated that positive changes in school polices, organisation, school environment (both physical and social environment), personal health skills training, partnership in health with community and students’ health risk behaviours was evident in the awardee schools after implementation of HSA or HPK. The fruitful results of the Schemes have been worldwide recognized and leaded Hong Kong to be the pioneer of school health promotion in the Asia Pacific Region. CHEP has been invited by WHO/WPRO to provide training and consultancy support for other countries in the region, included holding two training workshops on health promoting schools for delegates from Asian and Pacific Islands countries in 2004 and 2007 respectively, to support Laos on developing HPS and health improvement in 2004 and 2008, and also to participate in WHO Consultation Meeting in updating the Regional Guidelines for HPS in 2008. Furthermore, CHEP was commissioned by Macao SAR Government to conduct a territory wide study to assess the dietary pattern and nutritional status in Macao school children.

In order to map out strategies to cascade the effect of HPS leading to territory wide HPS movement that support students adopt an active and healthy lifestyle, we are now working with 30 resources schools on a 2-year health promoting schools built-on project (2008-2010) . Also, we will continue to collaborate with international bodies to promote global HPS movement and generate evidence on effectiveness of HPS. And we are committed in promoting health and creating a healthy living environment for our next generation together with the effort of schools, families and members of the society through providing consultancy and assessment services for all schools in Hong Kong.

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