Over the last century, MA PTA has continuously demonstrated commitment to the health, safety and wellness of youth and families as reflected in its many accomplishments and collaborations beginning in 1910. In this first decade, Somerville PTA pioneered recreational activities, including organizing playgrounds. They are noted for creating partnerships within their community and the Commonwealth as they still do today with programming such as Shape –Up Somerville, an award-winning collaboration of parents, guardians, educators and community members which became the foundation for Michelle Obama’s National Model Program.
In the 1950s, many MA PTA units were cited for supporting the Salk vaccine and today have robust and healthy partnerships and collaborations with the Department of Health (Massachusetts DPH) and with the Massachusetts Health Council (MHC). Growing out of the 1918 Pandemic, MA PTA spearheaded joint efforts for informational workshops, conferences and round-table discussions for our PTA Units on immunizations and HPV vaccines for certain cancers. In the early 60s, starting with the New Bedford Unit, MA PTA, initiated workshops on Drug Abuse, Community Involvement, Emotional Health Project, Smokeless Generation, and ‘Power to Do the Job.’ Presently, our MA PTA alliances with WGBH (MA Public Television and Programs), DESE and Children’s Trust assist us to keep that work alive and successful within our PTA units and at the state level.
In the 1970-80s MA PTA joined with other New England PTA, the National March of Dimes, and National PTA to co-sponsor a conference titled “Parenting: A PTA Priority.” Massachusetts PTA was commissioned by National PTA to produce a handbook for use with a series of alcohol education films Called “How to talk with your children about drinking: A Parenting Guide to Alcohol Education.” The program was piloted by Littleton PTA and many other PTA units were trained following its publication.
During the last decade of the 20th century and into the 21st century, MA PTA held educational conferences on HIV/AIDS and other issues that affect the health and safety of our children. In celebration of the millennium and the first five years of the millennium, MA PTA wrote or signed letters endorsing:
- The Mercury Reduction Bill
- The Asthma Reduction (Healthy Cleaners Bill)
- SAFER Massachusetts (Reducing Top Ten Toxic Chemicals)
- Nutrition Bill (Eliminating School Junk Food/Vending Machines)
- Mass Public Health Association
- The Cape Wind Farm Project.
In addition, MA PTA had representation on Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education advisory councils such as:
- Interdisciplinary Health Education and Human Services Advisory Council
- AIDS Advisory Panel
- MCAAP Immunization Initiative Advisory Council.
From 2020 to present day, the MA PTA Health, Safety and Wellness Committee is extremely active and involved with the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on our families, schools, teachers, children and youth, addressing issues around mental health, remote learning, vaping, nutrition and healthy eating. Partnerships have included collaboration with:
- Project Bread
- Minding Your Mind
- MCAAP (Massachusetts Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics)
- MMS (Massachusetts Medical Society)
- New England Dairy and Milk Council
- Department of Elementary and Secondary Schools (DESE) statewide Nutrition and Wellness Programs.
In addition, we have a partnership with the DPH School Nurses grown out of the The Hot Lunch and Milk Programs starting in rural Massachusetts schools from the work of PTA leaders and members in the 1930. During the 1940s war years, Mass PTA cooperated with war agencies who were concerned with the welfare and health of our children. This still exists today with our military families across the globe.
This abundant history and countless successes as well as the determination to impact families and communities is still growing today. We have a full and diligent committee designated just for Health, Safety and Wellness, and a designated MA PTA Board Seat and legislative agenda and chairperson leading these initiatives. Our mission, goals and objectives have and will continue to launch many new initiatives. We have built on long-term partnerships and sought out new collaborations to expand our knowledge base, strength and commitment to advocate for the healthy, safe and educated child.