OUR OBSESSION with 'short-term goals' such as making money instead of maintaining good health has taken its toll especially after the Asian financial crisis, according to a leading academic who specialises in health education, promotion and development. Professor Albert Lee, director of the Centre for Health Education and Health Promotion at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, says part of the reason why Hong Kong has yet to 'recover fully' is that we have not paid enough attention to our physical, psychological and social well-being over the past six years. To raise young people's awareness of health, the doctor introduced an award programme three years ago. The scheme also aims to instil among the next generation the concept that 'prevention is better than cure'. According to Professor Lee, one aspect of health is about lifestyle. 'If we don't litter our streets, we would have a better living environ-ment. So our habits affect our environment,' he says. Since 2001, close to 100 schools have joined the award programme. The schools are assessed in six areas: school health policies, health services, personal health skills, school social environment, community relationship and school physical environment. Within a three-year period, when a participating school is ready for assessment, members of the Centre for Health Education and Health Promo-tion will inspect the school. If it meets or exceeds the basic requirements in all six areas, it will be given a bronze, silver or gold award. This week, with the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Education and Manpower Bureau, the centre handed out 12 - nine silver and three bronze - awards to primary and secondary schools. 'The aim of the scheme is to give recognition and encouragement to schools with excellent performance and practices,' says Professor Lee. 'The schools are not competing with one another, but against the pre-set standards,' he adds. For some schools, joining the scheme is not so much about winning an award, but improving the school environment. Kwan Sau-wan, headmistress of SKH Wei Lun Primary School, says: 'We've found that Hong Kong students don't exercise enough and don't have a balanced diet. 'I think if students are healthy physically and psychologically, they will probably do well both academically and socially.'