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Healthy and Ready to Learn Initiative

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Our Healthy and Ready to Learn TV and Radio promos aired across the U.S. in January 2015. Watch below or see all the ads here

Across the U.S., we are witnessing a health crisis in the classroom .  Health-related barriers to learning are keeping kids from doing well in school – and children living in poverty are getting hit the hardest. 

Building on decades of experience caring for vulnerable kids, Children's Health Fund launched the Healthy and Ready to Learn Initiative in September 2014 to meet this crisis head on.  Working together with educators, health care providers and parents, Children's Health Fund is leading a growing movement to ensure that all kids are healthy so they can succeed in school and life.

Why do Children Need to be Healthy to Learn?

For millions of American children, education is the path out of poverty.  But untreated health problems can make it impossible for children to succeed in school. A child who's been awake all night with an asthma attack can't focus on algebra. A child who can't see the board will struggle with spelling.

The Healthy and Ready to Learn Initiative is designed to break down the walls between health care and education by identifying and addressing health problems at school. It focuses on eight key health barriers to learning—uncontrolled asthma, fatigue, vision loss, hearing loss, social stress, hunger, behavioral problems, and dental pain—that keep kids from succeeding.

This groundbreaking project launched at three pilot schools in New York City in the Fall of 2014 with generous help from Jaguar Land Rover and the H&M Conscious Foundation. It places a health coordinator and a behavioral health professional on site at each school to work with teachers, administrators and students. These specialists also reach out to engage and educate students’ families.

Aspects of the initiative will also be piloted by our National Network of mobile medical clinics and fixed sites, which spans 17 states and the District of Columbia. The mobile clinics visit 350 sites, including 159 schools, pioneering innovative ways to bring health care to students in the learning environment.

In the Fall semester, the three pilot schools screened their students for vision problems. As the New York Times reported, 21 percent of the children lacked the glasses they needed to see properly.

Results from the pilot projects are helping us design a scalable program that any school, city or state can use to ensure all students are healthy and ready to learn.