La Porte ISD health initiatives recognized
Sex education should be more effective and student athletes will be more closely monitored in La Porte Independent School District, thanks to two separate grants, awarded in recognition of the district's health initiatives.
The district's School Health Advisory Council won the "Characteristics of an Effective School Health Advisory Council Award" for demonstrating excellence and effectiveness in enhancing the health of the district-wide community.
The award comes with a $4,500 grant from Region 13 Education Service Center and the Texas Education Agency.
The district also received a $1,200 award, sponsored by the Texas Department of State Health Services' School Health Program, in recognition of its program for electrocardiogram (EKG) screening of student athletes.
The advisory council has earmarked the $4,500 grant, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for an abstinence-only sex education program, "Choosing the Best," targeted at sixth graders.
"We felt that this was an area where we were not educating our students the way we needed to in sex education," said April Fox, director of student support services.
Grant mandates use
Grant recipients must use the funds to enhance the implementation of school health programs with a focus on education and HIV prevention.
Laura Lynch, the district's lead nurse and council co-chair, agreed sex education in the district was an area of need.
She pointed to a University of Texas study that found a majority of parents in Harris County thought schools needed to do more about sex education.
"We don't want any of our children to make poor decisions that affects the ability to focus on academics," Lynch said.
The grant awards recognize district Health Advisory Councils, a requirement of all districts, that go above and beyond.
Councils are responsible for health services, nutrition services, physical education, health education, community and parent involvement, employee wellness, counseling and mental health services and healthy and safe school environment.
"I think it's fantastic that the district supports these ideas," said Jo Johnson, a parent representative on the council.
"Kids are in need of continued education to learn to make the right choices and also for EKG screening. Anything we can do to improve athletes' health and outlook, it's very positive."
The $1,200 award will go towards expanding a district pilot program, called "Lean, Mean and Screened," to screen incoming ninth-grade students planning to participate in sports.
The pilot program, which tested 50 eighth graders, has already proved to be invaluable, according to Lynch. One student had to be referred to a cardiologist, and another was found to have minor issues.
"I was shocked," Lynch said. "I didn't expect to see anything."
The screening program already has attracted other funding. The district pledged $3,000, while La Porte Lions Club is having a fundraiser in February to support the program.
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