We know that healthy kids are better learners. But what does it mean to be a “Healthy School”? And how can you – school staff, teachers, families, students and the bigger community get involved?
The Healthy Schools approach is a world-wide health movement based in schools. The focus is on health for all to support academic achievement and student well-being. In a Healthy School, health topics are addressed comprehensively. This means that a whole school approach is used and everyone has a role to play! Here’s how to get started:
- Assign a Staff Champion. Strong leadership and buy-in from school staff will help keep your health initiatives running smoothly. Not ready to take the lead? That’s okay. All staff can role-model healthy behaviour for students. Teachers can also integrate important health messages into curriculum.
- Form a Healthy Schools committee or make Healthy Schools part of one of your existing committees. Involve students, teachers, parents, families and other community partners. The more the merrier!
- Take time to acknowledge what your school is already doing well to promote health and well-being! Next work together to identify needs and issues you’d like to address.
- Brainstorm ideas and come up with a plan to take action on addressing your school’s identified health issues. The Ministry of Education’s Foundations for a Healthy School is a great resource for helping to plan your approach. Support students to take a leadership role in coming up with creative solutions to address the health issues important to them. And remember to keep parents and families informed so they can promote healthy habits at home!
- Look back and evaluate your progress. Keep what worked and adjust your plan to improve on it. Don’t forget to celebrate your success along the way!
Nurses from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s Healthy Schools program offer visits with school principals and/or vice-principals each fall, and provide ongoing support through the school year. Our nurses can help with needs assessments, action planning and can share resources, tips and ideas to help schools meet their health-related goals. They can also help to connect schools with other health unit and community programs and services.
To find out more about the Healthy Schools program, visit http://www.simcoemuskokahealth.org/JFY/Schools.aspx or follow Healthy Schools on Twitter @SMHealthySchool.