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National Public Health Week and Actions You Can Take

This week is National Public Health Week (NPHW) and the focus this year is on children and the built environment, according to the American Public Health Association (APHA). This year’s tagline is “Designing Healthy Communities: Raising Healthy Kids.” According to the website:

Each day of the week, APHA and its partners will encourage Americans to build healthier communities and to raise healthier kids. The week will showcase national communities that have addressed challenges in their built environment and serve as models for other areas across the nation.

APHA also lists actions you can take every day this week, urging members of Congress to support initiatives to improve children’s health and the built environment. Some of these are really impressive:


1. Support Senator Barack Obama’s (D-IL) and Representative Hilda Solis’ (D-Ca) Healthy PLACES (Priorities for Living Actively in Community Environments) Act of 2006, to be introduced this week, which brings together all levels of government to address environmental health issues by: (1) establishing and supporting health impact assessment programs to proactively examine the potential health effects of major policy or programmatic changes, (2) creating a grant program to assist states and local communities to address environmental health hazards, particularly those that contribute to health disparities and (3) accelerating research on the relationship between the environment and health.

Take Action: Contact your members of Congress.

2. Fully fund comprehensive public health programs, which ensure access to basic primary health services for millions of Americans – addressing the diverse needs of urban, rural and underserved areas; and training health care personnel to provide needed services.

Take Action: Contact your members of Congress.

Tuesday: ACCESS: Surrounding Our Kids with Equal Opportunities


3. Support S. 1513, Senator Barbara Mikulski’s (D-MD) Reauthorization of the HOPE VI program, which replaces severely distressed public housing projects, occupied exclusively by poor families, with redesigned mixed-income housing and provides housing vouchers to enable some of the original residents to rent apartments in the private market.

4. Support H.R. 4609 the High Performance Buildings Act, introduced by Representative Adam Smith (D-WA), which (1) requires that state and local housing strategies include a description of the jurisdiction’s plans to encourage sustainable development for affordable housing, (2) creates a grant program for nonprofit organizations to improve energy efficiency, resource conservation and effective use of existing infrastructure in affordable housing and economic development activities in low-income communities and (3) establishes within the National Science Foundation a Sustainable Building Institute to undertake or support programs in states and communities through providing grants, loans, or other research.

5. Support H.R.2763, Representative Lois Capps’s (D-CA) Student Nutrition and Health Act, which creates a grant program to fund local educational agencies to purchase or lease vending machines that offer healthy foods or beverages in recommended portion sizes to place in schools.

Wednesday: PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Surrounding Our Kids with Physical Activity


7. Support urban parks, recreation and open space by fully funding the Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery Program, which provides matching grants and technical assistance to economically distressed urban communities for rehabilitation of critically needed recreation facilities. The law also encourages systematic local planning and commitment to continuing operation and maintenance of recreation programs, sites, and facilities. Support Senator John Cornyn’s (R-TX) and Representative Zach Wamp’s (R-TN) S.1276/H.R.4359 bill, which amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to include physical education as a required subject for which states must have academic content and achievement standards for all students.

8. Support S.1325, Senator Bill Frist’s (R-TN) Improved Nutrition and Physical Activity Act, which establishes a grant program to provide incentives for improved nutrition, increased physical activity, obesity and eating disorder prevention.

Thursday: SAFETY & TRANSPORTATION: Surrounding Our Kids with Safety


9. Support the federal Safe Routes to School program, which delivers grants to communities to fund transportation projects to make it safer for school-aged children to walk and bike to school. Communities use the funds to fix hazards and build pathways, bike lanes and sidewalks near school campuses.

10. Support S.794, Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2005, which requires transportation planners to improve the safety of non-motorized transportation, including bicycle and pedestrian safety.

Friday: ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS: Surrounding Our Kids with Clean Air


11. Support funding for the National Children’s Study, which was authorized in 2000 and is the first long-term study to examine the effects of environmental influences on the health and development of more than 100,000 children across the United States, following them from before birth until age 21. The President’s 2007 Budget proposal eliminates all future funding for the study. Support S.1489/ H.R.4166, The Family Asthma Act Sponsored by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), which awards grants for pilot projects to prevent and control asthma symptoms and to reduce asthma attacks.

12. Support S.666/H.R.1376, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, introduced by Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Representative Tom Davis (R-VA). The bill provides the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the authority to regulate the tobacco industry, directing the FDA to eliminate the advertising and promotion of tobacco products to young people and provides penalties to tobacco companies that break the rules.

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