CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Schools are playing a bigger part in student health these days. Health educators from around the state are in Charleston this week for the 2014 Kidstrong Conference to talk and learn more about the subject.

Paula Fields, the Community Schools Coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Education, explained more than 900 people are attending this year’s event at the Charleston Civic Center. It’s the largest school health conference in the state. The goal is to give school health professionals the information they need to create and promote a healthy environment inside the classroom.

“If our children are not healthy and ready to learn, they aren’t able to learn often because they’re distracted. We like to think that addressing needs of the children will help them to be ready to learn and give them an equal access to learn,” Fields said.

Dozens of workshops are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. They focus on everything from oral health to nutrition, speech and language to mental health. Fields stressed they try to tackle a broad range of subjects to help prepare school health professionals for whatever situation they might face.

The Department of Education is moving more toward a new concept where the focus is broader than just reading, writing and arithmetic.

“In West Virginia we’re working on community schools and that recognizes the importance of the schools and the community and that includes the parents working together to come up with the best solution to whatever the child might need,” according to Fields.

Presenters include Gayle Manchin from the West Virginia Board of Education to Dr. Anne Schuchat with the Centers for Disease Control. However, Fields said some of the best opportunities to learn come during breaks in the sessions.

“One of the strongest pieces of a conference such as this is we get to share what works with each other. Successes that are easy to replicate often provide support that is immeasurable,” said Fields.

This is the 11th year for the conference.

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  • mark

    We are overreaching again and will further dilute a system that already tries to do too much. The latest is a reaction to Michelle Obama ' s initiative.

    • Mason County Contrarian

      I disagree Mark.

      It has nothing to do with the Obamas, left or right, Republican or Democrat. Our schools have had to cure all of society's ills for the past several decades--I know this for a fact because I was there to see it and deal with it. Schools have a difficult time simply teaching, let alone dealing with non-education issues and the public expecting every school to work miracles daily.

      • Aaron

        Why do are schools have to cure societies ills and when did this process begin?

        • Mason County Contrarian

          It has been that way since I began and ended my career in the mid 70's to early 2010s, Aaron. I can't explain why, suffice it to say that the most painless way to solve all social problems was through education. A noble endeavor but one that replaces rather than augments instruction many times in many schools. It all trickles downhill.

  • Mason County Contrarian

    This is a prime example of what has become of our schools--no one raising children any longer, so everyone targets the schools to take up the parent slack.

    • Big Jim