Healthy children learn best

Copenhagen, 7 October 2013

Studies have repeatedly shown that healthy children perform better in school. Researchers have known this for years, yet health and well-being are still not a top priority in most schools.

WHO/Europe is co-organizing a conference that will explore the link between equity, education and health in schools. The 4th European Conference on Health Promoting Schools will take place in Odense, Denmark on 7–9 October 2013. Nearly 250 researchers and professionals will convene to share experience with and findings on the relationship between well-being, health and learning.

“Children learn better if they are involved in a school’s daily life, if the environment is conducive to learning and being healthy, and if teachers feel engaged,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “Policies work when they are based on evidence – the education and health sectors need to work together to implement best practices across the WHO European Region.”

This is in line with the new European health policy framework, Health 2020, which addresses the social determinants of health and well-being and calls for a cross-sectoral, whole-of-government approach to health policies.

The Conference in Odense will cover a wide range of topics, including trends in the latest research on health promotion in schools, which show that health and learning are influenced by:

  • student involvement, which is vital to promoting well-being at school as students who feel they can influence the school’s daily life are more motivated and achieve better academic results;
  • participatory policy development, as the implementation of a school policy (for example, against bullying) is more effective when pupils are involved in developing it; and
  • teachers’ well-being and health, as they cannot be separated from those of schoolchildren.

School staff must be included in a holistic approach to health promotion in schools.

The 250 Conference participants will include decision-makers, researchers and practitioners from the health, education and social sectors, from governmental and local organizations, NGOs, youth organizations and academic institutions.

For further information, contact:

Vivian Barnekow
Technical Officer, Child and Adolescent Health
Tel.: +45 51 53 95 61 (mobile)

Tina Kiaer
Communications Officer
WHO Regional Office for Europe
UN City, Marmorvej 51
2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark
Tel.: +45 30 36 37 76 (mobile)