Multiple Medical Conditions to be addressed through new needs assessment at school boards across Ontario

FUNDING FROM ONTARIO GOVERNMENT KEY TO ADDRESSING CONCERNS HOLISTICALLY

TORONTO, April 3, 2014 /CNW/ - Ophea is pleased to announce the launch of a needs assessment relating to the management of student medical conditions in school settings thanks to the support of the Ministry of Education.

"As a mother and grandmother, I know that parents want — and deserve — to know that their children can go to school each day and be safe," said Minister of Education Liz Sandals. "Ophea's research will be an important step in determining the best way to manage student medical conditions in our schools —including asthma, diabetes, anaphylaxis or epilepsy – so that our students continue to learn in safe and healthy schools."

The overall intent of the needs assessment is to gain a greater understanding of current policies and practices, medical conditions school boards currently address, as well as available resources, partnerships and implementation support. The needs assessment will include a specific review of how schools deal with the four major prevalent medical conditions, asthma, anaphylaxis, diabetes and seizure disorders (including epilepsy), as well as the identification of other prevalent medical conditions in schools.

"With funding support for this comprehensive needs assessment, the government has taken a significant step forward in ensuring the health and safety of our kids is addressed on a system-wide level," says Chris Markham, Executive Director and CEO of Ophea. "This will allow every student to feel safe and secure so they can fully participate throughout their school day."

Ophea, along with multiple partners including ACEPO, ADFO, AFOCSC, CPCO, OPSBA, OCSTA and OPC, have been advocating for an emergency response policy and implementation that ensures schools are appropriately equipped to respond in the case of a medical emergency for multiple conditions.

"Given the number of medical conditions presenting in schools, a needs assessment of practices is welcome," says Bob Pratt, President of the Ontario Principals' Council. "It is our hope that such a review will lead to the development of an overarching protocol or policy that can address current and emergent student medical needs in a workable manner for medical practitioners and educators."

"The Canadian Diabetes Association is pleased that the Ophea and the Government of Ontario are taking these important steps forward in protecting the rights of children with diabetes, and other life-threatening conditions," says Rick Blickstead, President and CEO, Canadian Diabetes Association. "We welcome the opportunity to continuously seek new ways to work together to reduce anxiety for children, parents, caregivers, and school personnel, and to ultimately ensure student health and safety."

For the past 10 years Ophea has been connected to the Asthma Plan of Action (APA) through the School-Based Approaches to Asthma project as well as through the role of provincial coordinator for the Public Health School Asthma Program (PHSAP).  Over this period, Ophea has worked together with key partners on the development of programs and resources designed to increase the skills and knowledge of educators about asthma management in schools.

Ophea and its partners are looking forward to beginning the needs assessment process and will be providing recommendations on feasible next steps. 

Facts:

  • 1 in 5 students in Ontario live with asthma
  • 1 in every 2 Canadians knows someone with a severe food allergy
  • In Ontario alone, the incidence of Type 1 Diabetes increased by 48% between 1992 and 2002
  • Each year an average of 15,500 people learn they have epilepsy and 75-85% are diagnosed before age 18 

Ophea is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting school communities through advocacy, quality programs and services, and partnership building.  Ophea is led by the vision that all children and youth value and enjoy the lifelong benefits of healthy, active living. For more information visit www.ophea.net

SOURCE Ophea

For further information: Ruth Kates, Marketing & Communications Lead, Ophea, ruth@ophea.org, 416-426-7020