If someone were to ask you about your health program at school, what would come to your mind? Would you think merely of the class in hygiene or health in which you study this book? Or would you think of the many things that are done throughout the day to keep you well and strong? As a matter of fact, the health program starts when you reach school in the morning and lasts until you leave at the end of the day. The following pages will help you to think of the program and will suggest certain things you may do to help carry it out.
How the school program is built.
The school program has been worked out by scientists who make a careful study of what is best for you. Some of these scientists think of the number of subjects you should study, the length of your class periods, the best time for lunch and play, and the length of the school day. They also think of the heating, ventilation, and lighting of the building, the kind of desks you should have, and many other things of a similar nature. The school board, the teachers, and all of the people of your community work together to see that proper conditions are provided.
The complete school program, then, is built with your health in mind. If you attend a large school, however, certain special things may be done for your health. You may, for example, have the help of a doctor and nurse. Some of the leading health activities include directing your play on the playground or in the gymnasium, helping you select the right foods to eat, checking your health through regular health examinations, caring for you in case of accidents, and protecting you against certain dangerous diseases when they appear in the school.
Directing your play.
Many large schools have special playground or gymnasium teachers. Such teachers help to choose the games that are best for your health. They help to keep you from playing too hard or too long at a time. They teach you what it means to be a good sport. That is, they teach you not to gloat over a victory or to be discouraged over a defeat. Under their direction you learn to follow the rules of the game. You learn the value of teamwork or playing your part well without trying to run away with the game. All of this training is good not only on the playground but also for everyday life.
Helping in the selection of foods.
If you attend a large school, you probably eat your lunch in the school cafeteria. Here good, clean foods are prepared for you. The school nurse will help you select the foods you need to make a good diet. She will give particular attention to your height and weight to find whether you are growing properly. If she finds that you are not, she will tell you the foods you should eat in order to grow faster. Of course, you will take her advice and select what she says is best for you.
Giving you health examinations.
At least once each year you are probably given a health examination. There are several reasons for the examination, but the greatest one is to help you discover defects in order that you may have them corrected. It may be that your heart, lungs, or other vital organs are not doing their work properly. The examination uncovers weaknesses that you may not know you have. You may have been sick with influenza, measles, or another disease and think that you have fully recovered when, as a matter of fact, the disease has left some harmful results.
Sometimes you should go to the doctor for a special examination. If you do not feel well after playing a very hard game or running a hard race, for example, you should find out whether you have overworked your heart. If your eyes hurt or you cannot see well, you should ask the doctor to examine your eyes. If you become ill during the day, report the matter promptly to your teacher so that you may have attention as early as possible. The teacher or nurse will tell you whether you should remain in school or whether you should go home.
Taking care of injuries.
The nurse is always ready to take care of injuries no matter how slight they may be. Accidents of several kinds may happen at school. There is always danger in crowded hallways, in the gymnasium, or on the playground. Someone may sprain an ankle, bruise an arm, or cut a finger. Every sprain, bruise, or. cut, no matter how small, should be given immediate attention. Even though the injury causes little pain, it is best to have it treated. Unless this is done, it may become very painful and lead to serious trouble.
You can help in taking care of injuries by encouraging your playmates to go to the nurse for treatment. When someone is hurt, do not get excited about the matter but help as much as you can and report the injury to the teacher or nurse. If you yourself are hurt, go quickly to the nurse, or, if the injury is serious, remain quiet until you can be given proper attention.
Protecting you against dangerous diseases.
Much is done through the school to protect you against dangerous diseases. When a pupil shows symptoms of having a contagious disease, he usually is sent home and kept there until he has fully recovered. In this way you may continue your work without danger of exposure. Then, too, the school may vaccinate you against smallpox or typhoid fever or give you a toxoid to prevent diphtheria. These steps are taken that you may be safe even when you are exposed. You can help in these matters by reporting to the teacher or nurse every time you do not feel well. Also you can help by staying away from playmates when they are sick until you are sure they do not have a contagious disease. Finally, if you have never been immunized against certain dangerous diseases, you can help by being immunized as soon as possible.
Science in health.
If you compare your own school with those of a hundred years ago, you may well ask what has brought about the changes in conditions. The answer to your question may be stated in a single word-science. Science has discovered the causes of diseases and how diseases are spread, and has provided means of protection. It has supplied information about the body and the manner in which the body should be cared for in our daily lives. The work of science has not been limited to the school, but has affected the ways in which you live at home and in the community. Superstitions have been thrown away, and people are guided by facts that have been tested and proved.