The work of Great Schools Partnership is heavily influenced by our fantastic network of partners across Knox County. One such partner that works with us on a myriad of programs is the Knox County Health Department (KCHD).
The Health Department has been a long-standing partner with our Community Schools strategy. One of the largest KCHD sponsored programs supports children’s oral health. Together the partners, Elgin Children’s Foundation and KCHD’s dental program, screened more than 2700 elementary Community School students in the fall of 2018 with 100 being referred to a dentist. Approximately 550 additional students were treated at KCHD with services such as cleanings, crowns, extractions, , etc. This dental program is also supported by Knox County Schools.
The Safe Routes to School Partnership involves a number of partners, including the actively involved Health Department. From evaluation of safety around the school to infrastructure and programming, this collaborative group helps ensure students have safe ways to walk or bike to and from school. The Partnership has worked with nearly all 16 Community School sites over the last few years with the Health Department currently facilitating 4 Walking School Bus programs in Community Schools. The Walking School Bus is a teacher/volunteer led group of students who walk home together from school or to a designated pick-up location. The supervision and overall comradery between parents, teachers and students make for a highly successful and beneficial experience for families.
KCHD facilitates the implementation of N.E.A.T. Approved policies that help create a healthy afterschool environment. In conjunction with these policies, the Nutrition Education Activity Training (N.E.A.T.) program helps students learn about positive food choices, healthy eating habits and physical activity. The program is taught at seven Community School sites with more than 185 participating students. Another healthy food initiative involves teaching students how they can purchase locally grown fresh produce at our local Farmer’s Markets. This fieldtrip-based program provides hands on experience for students in partnership with Nourish Knoxville.
The need for physical activity is an ongoing focus for the KCHD and the Knox Rocks program facilitates connecting students with groups organizing soccer teams for practice, play and competition. Between two and four Community Schools participate each semester which results in a range of 30-60 student participants per semester.
The Health Department is also a great partner with Great Schools Partnership’s Parents as Teachers prenatal to kindergarten program. The KCHD team provides referrals of families they believe could benefit from this evidence-based home visitation program that helps parents understand how to be their child’s first teacher. Through the FIMR Community Action Team, our team also connects families in need with free pack n play portable cribs so that families have a safe place for their infants to sleep. Also, our team works directly with the staff at the health department on the TennCare Kids Coalition and the Knox Adolescent Partners in Prevention Initiative (KAPPI).
As evidenced by this extensive collaboration, the partnership between the Knox County Health Department and Great Schools Partnership is making a significant difference in the health and wellbeing of our students and communities.