This week, Southern California Public Radio (SCPR) had a terrific report on student hydration in California. The story highlighted one of the state’s more distressing inequities – the lack of access to and consumption of clean drinking water.
The report focuses primarily on schools in Los Angeles, but does reference a national study that found that more than half of all children and adolescents in the U.S. experience chronic dehydration. While rates are high across all races and ethnicities, they are particularly high among African Americans and Latinos. This is especially evident in LA’s public schools, where a majority of students are from communities of color.
The article has some good quotes from health advocates, including our friends at California Food Policy Advocates, on the challenges of increasing access to and consumption of clean water.
"When you look at water it’s zero calories but yet you need it to survive and to live a fruitful life," says Hector Gutierrez, a nutrition policy analyst who works on water access for the California Food Policy Advocates. "So we are trying to change the paradigm and make water the beverage of choice."
Experts say school is a natural target for efforts to make water more attractive, since kids spend so much of their time there. But there's a lot of work to do...
“A lot of these schools [in California] are very old and have old infrastructure," says Gutierrez. "The water might be hot, or the drinking fountain might be kind of decrepit."
We all know a healthy school environment is vital for learning. When you consider that between students, teachers, and staff, one in five Californians spend their day at a school, it becomes clear just how important school environments are to the health of families all across the state. Unfortunately, environmental health concerns in California’s classrooms are all too common, especially in low-income communities and communities of color – often the same communities we find the most glaring health inequities in conditions such as asthma.
Ironically, some of these concerns stem from the very products used to keep the school clean. School children and staff are unnecessarily exposed to chemicals commonly found in traditional cleaning products. These chemicals have been linked to asthma and other respiratory problems, cancer, reproductive and neurological harm, and hormone disruption, as well as environmental concerns such as water pollution, smog, and damage to the ozone layer.
Welcome to Friday Facts! Each week we'll be taking a look at a specific chart from the Data & Resources section of our website. This week we're focusing on school safety in Los Angeles County.
We hope that our schools as safe places where children can learn without fear. For the most part, that’s the case. But inequities do exist, and in some communities, children of color are less likely to feel safe at their school than their White counterparts.
As you can see in today’s Friday Facts table, such inequities exist in Los Angeles County. Students of color are less likely to describe their school as “very safe” or “safe” than White students. African American (55.7%) and Latino (56.5%) students were the least likely to consider their school safe, especially compared to 71.4% of White students.
In our fact sheet, Spotlight on Children’s Health: Los Angeles County, we discussed the correlation between school safety and academic achievement. We noted that students who feel safe at school (87%) are much more likely to consider attending college compared to those who do not feel safe (69%). We also highlighted the connection between school safety and drop-out rates and how dropping out of school impacts a student’s future employment potential.
The same fact sheet included the following recommendations to increase school safety in the county:
Welcome to Friday Facts! Each week we'll be taking a look at a specific chart from the Data & Resources section of our website. This week we're focusing on students reporting depression-related feelings in Fresno County.
We have been talking a lot about mental health recently. If you’ve been following the blog this week, you will have seen that we hosted two town hall meetings, one in Fresno and the other in Oakland, to discuss the California Reducing Disparities Project’s (CRDP) draft Statewide Strategic Plan to Reduce Mental Health Disparities. These events have generated great discussion and a number of comments that we will be incorporating into the final plan after the ongoing public comment period ends on February 17th.
While we have talked so much about the strategic plan in this space, we haven’t focused on some of the actual mental health needs that it will address. So, for this Friday Facts, we are going to look at a chart representing the percentage of students experiencing depression-related feelings in Fresno County. As you can see, at least 1 in 4 students in each racial/ethnic group have reported experiencing depression-related feelings in the last year. There are some noticeable disparities, as Pacific Islanders (nearly half), Asians, and Latinos reported experiencing depression-related feelings at higher rates. But it is clear that this particular issue impacts all communities.