What is a Healthy School?
A healthy school is one where school administration, teachers, parents, students and community agencies work together to create an environment that will have a positive impact on a child’s health and learning.
"Healthy Learners are Better Learners" (Health Canada)
A Healthy School Approach involves the whole school community coming together to share ideas, plan, and take action to help kids lead healthy and active lives. (OPHEA, 2015)
What are the benefits of a healthy school?
A healthy school builds a healthy setting for the whole school community to live, learn, work and play. Benefits of a healthy school include:
- Enhancing physical, emotional, social and spiritual health
- Improving student health and educational outcomes
- Improving academic achievement and decreasing behavioural problems in the classroom
- Enhancing student leadership opportunities and meaningfully engaging students within the school community
- Building relationships through collaborating with home, school and community
- Enhancing parent engagement opportunities
- Complementing school policies and programs:
(OPHEA 2015, and Joint Consortium for School Health, 2015)
Building Healthy School Communities
How to implement a Healthy Schools Approach
1. Establish a Healthy School Team
- Educate the school about the Healthy Schools approach
- Gain commitment from the school community
- Recruit members for the committee: administrators, teachers, parents, and students
2. Identify strengths, needs, and interests of your school community
- Survey parents, students and teachers/staff
- Establish a vision and prioritize issues
3. Develop, carry out, and monitor an action plan
- Choose activities to address priority issues using the Foundations for a Healthy School
- Formulate an action plan
- Promote activities to school community
- Implement activities from the action plan
- Monitor activities, revise, and update as needed
4. Evaluate and celebrate achievements
- Review and evaluate activities
- Celebrate achievements
- Plan for the next year
- Ontario Physical and Health Education Association (external link) (Ophea) provides information, resources, and tools to support your Healthy School community.
- Ontario Ministry of Education (external link) provides information about Healthy Schools, as well as information about the Healthy Schools Recognition Program.
- People for Education (external link) is a parent led organization working to support public education in Ontario’s schools. Their Ready...Set...Go! toolkit (external link) is a step by step guide to creating a healthier school and includes a school self assessment tool.
- Ontario Healthy Schools Coalition (external link) is an Ontario-wide, broad-based coalition, with members from public health units, school boards, hospitals, mental health agencies, universities, health-related organizations, education-related organizations, and parent and student organization.