School Health: A Cooperative Venture

How to develop adequate health programs in church schools.

JOYCE W. HOPP, M.P.H., Assistant in Health Education, General Conference Medical Department

Pastors, church school teachers, physicians, dentists, nurses—all realize that something more should be done about the health of the children in our church schools. How to do that "something" is the question. Most of our church schools are small, one- or two-room schools. We cannot afford to hire full-time physicians and nurses, as do the public schools. And present-day research indicates this would not be advis­able, even if we could afford it.

Adequate health programs are difficult to develop in church schools, but they are worth every bit of the effort it takes. When physicians and nurses work with teachers and pastors, a good health program can be the result. This sounds like a lot of theory, does it not? But it can succeed with cooperation. We can best tell you of it in the words of Dr. David W. Ruggles, conference medical secretary (on a voluntary, unpaid basis) for the Southern New England Conference, as he writes of the Health Educa­tion Week conducted in that conference.

The following note appeared in the Atlantic Union Gleaner of April 21, 1958:

The boys and girls throughout the Southern New England Conference observed March 9-15 as Health Education Week. The Department of Education made arrangements to have Dr. David Ruggles, conference medical secretary, Mrs. Robert Ritten­house, of Hudson, and student nurses from the New England Sanitarium conduct a special program in the church schools of the conference during this week. To emphasize good health habits in an inter­esting way skits, stories, questions, and illustrated talks were given by those participating. With the guidance of the teachers, the students found the week most enjoyable by making health posters, writ­ing jingles, learning songs, decorating the room, and writing stories.

Commenting on the week, Dr. Ruggles writes:

The idea grew out of suggestions made by Millie Urbish, elementary supervisor for the Southern New England Conference at a conference on such mat­ters last summer when we were both attending workers' meeting. We are fortunate to have a school of nursing in our local conference at the New England Sanitarium, and Marilyn Kueffner, who instructs the student nurses in public health nursing and health education lines, cooperated. This was to the benefit of the church school pupils and also the kind of experience needed by the student nurses, of whom there were about fifteen.

Health education needs to be presented to the children to do much good; people over fifty, sixty, or seventy have little potential gain to be derived from health education efforts on their behalf com­pared with that gained in working with children and young people. We hope to make our Health Education Week in the church schools an annual feature for the above-mentioned reasons and aspire to keep it interesting, profitable, and entertaining for the boys and girls.


You may not have a school of nursing in your conference, but these same results can be accomplished in every place where there is a church school, an interested teacher, a physi­cian, or dentist, or nurse, and a pastor who will work hard enough to put the combination to­gether. If you wish any suggestions, your local conference medical and educational depart­ments will be happy to assist you as you plan to improve your school health program.

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JOYCE W. HOPP, M.P.H., Assistant in Health Education, General Conference Medical Department

December 1958

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