Need a fun fall event? October is Family Health Month, a campaign of the American Academy of Family Physicians. It promotes a holistic approach to health, so PTOs and PTAs can build programs around a wide range of health issues, from relaxation programs such as yoga classes to parent information sessions on substance abuse.

Here are just a few program ideas for parent groups:

  • Put On a Show: The PTO of the New London-Spicer (Minn.) school district organized a “Healthy Families: Healthy Communities” expo where local sponsors provided information or free services to families. For instance, free lead testing was offered for children younger than 5. The PTO also hosted guest speakers to address health issues. To make it exciting for children, the group added a student poster contest and a race called the 1K Cat Crawl.

  • Nurture Funny Bones: The PTO at Patch High School, a school for military families in Stuttgart, Germany, adopted the “Laugh More, Stress Less” program from the Josh Anderson Foundation of Vienna, Va., to help students cope with exams. The parent group put posters around the school reminding students of the health benefits of laughter and handed out bright green “Laugh More” buttons. This could be adapted for younger children who stress over standardized tests.

  • Encourage Family Connections: Regular family dinners benefit kids in many ways. Hold a traditional spaghetti supper or potluck with a family dinner theme that stresses the importance of dinner conversations. Encourage different families to sit together. Try serving food family-style and place “conversation starters” on index cards on tables to promote dialogue. A good resource on family dinners to pass along to parents is TheFamilyDinnerProject.org.