February 3, 2014

Chicago Unveils Action Plan for Healthy Adolescents

Identifies 65 Strategies to Improve Health of Chicago’s Teens

CHICAGO – This afternoon, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) will release Chicago’s Action Plan for Healthy Adolescents, which will guide city-wide efforts to improve the health and well-being of Chicago’s adolescents.  The plan identifies 40 measurable health targets for the City to achieve by 2020, as well as 65 strategies that will be implemented by CDPH and its partners to meet the ambitious targets. The plan was developed through a collaborative process that included input from more than 50 health, policy and education experts, as well as Chicago youth.

“When I first launched Healthy Chicago, we promised to provide Chicago’s young people with every opportunity to get and stay healthy,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “We have already made tremendous progress in this area and, as this plan shows, we are committed to making even more progress in the years ahead.”

Chicago’s Action Plan for Healthy Adolescents is a key component of Healthy Chicago, the city’s public health agenda launched by Mayor Emanuel in 2011. Healthy Chicago identifies 12 key priorities – including adolescent health – significant to the improvement of the City’s health.

 “To ensure a Healthy Chicago, we must first work to ensure the health and well-being of our young people,” said CDPH Commissioner Bechara Choucair, M.D. “This plan provides concrete, collaborative, evidence-based strategies that will improve the health and well-being of adolescents across our great City.”

The plan is divided into seven priority areas important to adolescent health and development including Nutrition and Physical Activity, Behavioral Health and Access to Care. Strategies developed as part of the plan include:

  • Increasing physical activity during and after school.
  • Increasing availability of behavioral health services and supports in school.
  • Working with principals to implement condom availability programs in Chicago’s high schools.
  • Increasing the number of students vaccinated for HPV.

The plan was released at a special event at Jones College Prep High School, bringing together students and community partners from across Chicago to discuss the plan and how best to implement the strategies moving forward. In Chicago, where students spend at least seven hours a day in school and nearly 90 percent of families are low-income, the school environment plays an especially critical role in ensuring student health and wellness. As part of the team that worked to develop the plan, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Office of Student Health and Wellness (OSHW) strives to increase access to quality school health services and improve the school wellness environment through strong collaborations with health and wellness partners.

"The health and wellness of our students is fundamental to academic growth, which is why the District is taking strides to remove health-related barriers to learning so that all students are primed for success in the classroom and in life,” said CPS Chief Health Officer Stephanie Whyte. “Through this plan, we can provide supports to help schools build capacity and implement services that improve and promote the health and safety of Chicago’s students.”

One of the health services offered to CPS students is the Teen Outreach Program, an evidence-based, positive youth development curriculum for ninth-grade students proven to decrease course failure, suspension, and teen pregnancy. The program is made possible by the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, a $19.7 million grant teen pregnancy prevention grant awarded to CPS and jointly administered with the Office of Adolescent and School Health at the Chicago Department of Public Health. The work of this grant is supported by the new Comprehensive Sexual Health Education policy adopted by the Chicago Board of Education in 2013.

“Chicago is working hard to ensure every adolescent has the opportunity to grow into a healthy young adult, from increasing opportunities for physical activity to providing access to comprehensive sexual health education,” said Josh Prudowsky of Mikva Challenge, one of the partner organizations participating in today’s launch.  “By creating strong youth and adult partnerships, we are already seeing results.”

The full plan can be found here.

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