American Indian/Alaska Native children have at an increased risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes and dental cavities, all of which can have serious, lifelong effects. The Indian Health Service health education and head start programs collaborate with local school systems that educate Native American and Alaska Native students.
Learn more about School Health Education.
Healthy eating is important for people of all ages, but it is especially critical for the growth and development of infants and young children. Healthy eating not only helps children feel good physically and mentally, but it also helps them to do well in school.
Regular physical activity is a vital part of staying healthy, from birth through adulthood. Physical activity is any movement of the body that uses energy. Due to the increase in obesity and type 2 diabetes in American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations, physical activity is even more important to AI/AN children. Early childhood is the ideal time to teach active lifestyles to children and provide good examples of healthy behaviors. It’s up to parents, educators and health professionals to help our AI/AN children learn behaviors that will keep them healthy and happy.
Early childhood caries (ECC) is an especially severe form of dental cavities that affects young children’s first set of teeth. Not only is ECC painful, it also can be embarrassing for the children who have it. If not treated, dental decay and the damage ECC causes can have major, lifelong effects.
Learn more about the Early Childhood Caries (ECC) effort.
C. Everett Koop, the former Surgeon General of the United States, once noted, “If a disease were killing our children in the proportions that injuries are, people would be outraged and demand that this killer be stopped.”.
Many of us assume that most injuries are random events. but the conditions that lead to so-called accidents can be avoided. When parents and caregivers are armed with caution and the proper information, most injuries can be avoided in the first place. It is clearly tragic that injuries are the leading cause of death for American Indians and Alaska Natives between the ages of one and 44. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this group has a death rate from injury that is three times higher than the rest of the US population.
Learn more about Injury Prevention.
Mental wellness is the basis of a happy, productive life, which is why the Indian Health Service Head Start Program prioritizes mental health. There are many factors that contribute to each child’s mental wellness, so a varied public health approach is helpful in addressing mental well-being.
Every child deserves to live, play, learn and grow in healthy environments. This is why the Indian Health Service Head Start Program considers environmental health to be a top priority. Environmental health includes food safety, fire safety, disaster preparedness, sanitation, building safety, air quality, playground safety, injury prevention and illness prevention.