Manitoba

Manitoba Healthy Schools

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Becoming a Healthy School

A healthy school promotes the physical, emotional, and social health of students, their families, school staff, and the school community. Becoming a healthy school is a journey that can start with a few simple changes. The approach does not require more work, just a different way of working that over time becomes everyday practice.

Schools work at their own pace, introducing changes and initiatives that improve their school and the health and wellbeing of students and staff. Some schools start with an emphasis on one health topic, such as physical activity or healthy eating. This can lead to a broader set of policies and practice which, combined, create a school culture that supports greater student health and achievement.

Healthy school initiatives are more successful if they involve everyone - school leaders, students and their families, staff and the whole school community.  When there is leadership support and everyone is committed, health promoting activities can be well planned, coordinated, implemented, and sustainable over the long-term.

There are six basic steps to the process:

  • Step 1
    Form a Team
  • Step 2
    Engage Students
  • Step 3
    Assess
  • Step 4
    Plan & Act
  • Step 5
    Celebrate
  • Step 6
    Repeat

Bring together a group of interested individuals to assess and plan the health of the school starts the Healthy School process. Having a strong team is critical to achieving success. It will make the assessment and planning more meaningful, be more widely accepted, and much easier to implement and sustain.

Some schools form new teams, while others use existing schools teams or committees. Whether the team is new or existing, it should represent the various aspects of the school
community, including:
  • school staff
  • students
  • regional health authority and community representatives
  • parents / guardians
  • administrators

Tip: Involving school leaders is important to the success of healthy schools initiatives. If the principal or other school administrator is not able to be part of the Healthy
Schools team, consider how she/he can visibly demonstrate her/his support for the initiative to the team and to the entire school community.


Sources and Resources

BC Healthy Schools Network. BC Healthy Schools Assessment. Retrieved Mar 20, 2012.

Joint Consortium for School Health. JCSH Healthy School Planner. Retrieved Mar 20, 2012.

Joint Consortium for School Health. JCSH Positive Mental Health Toolkit. Retrieved Mar 20, 2012.

 

Youth are a key part of any successful healthy schools initiative. Their role should not be limited to just participating in activities planned by adults. They need to be represented on the Healthy Schools team, as their input is essental to an effective implementation.

Student leaders are strong peer influences and can be an incredibly effective force when empowered, engaged and equipped with a vision for change. Having students and adults work together toward a common goal will create change faster than either group can accomplish alone.

Tip:  Avoid having students become token members of the healthy schools team. One way to give them a real voice on the team is by involving enough students that they are comfortable in sharing their opinions.


Sources and Resources

BC Healthy Schools Network. BC Healthy Schools Assessment. Retrieved Mar 20, 2012.

Joint Consortium for School Health. JCSH Healthy chool Planner. Retrieved Mar 20, 2012.

Joint Consortium for School Health. JCSH Positive Mental Health Toolkit. Retrieved Mar 20, 2012.

Schools identify strengths as well as areas for improvement. They consider the key health areas for schools, and current and upcoming Healthy Schools Campaigns.

Before planning any changes, the Healthy Schools team should assess the current situation in the school; identifying strengths as well as areas for improvement. 

A structured assessment helps foster an organized approach to thinking about, integrating and building on the many healthy school ideas and activities that already influence the culture of the school. It also assists in identifying and prioritizing areas for improvement as they relate to the pillars of comprehensive school health and to the key health issues for schools.

There are a variety of tools that can help schools with the assessment as well as with developing plans for making improvements.

  • JCSH Healthy School Planner: An online tool that provides assessment and planning functions. Developed by the Joint Consortium for School Health for schools in Canada. Available in both English and French.
  • BC Healthy Schools Assessment: A downloadable, printable booklet developed for use by BC’s Healthy School Network that walks Healthy School teams through the process of assessing the current situation, setting priorities and taking action.
  • Healthy Schools Self-Assessment & Planning Template (coming soon) A printable, editable template that allows schools to assess and plan their Healthy Schools initiative by health topic.

Tip: Pick the assessment tool or approach that is most suitable for your school and your healthy schools team. Some teams prefer a more thorough systematic online assessment, like that provided by the JCSH Healthy School Planner. Others prefer a simple, paper-based method like the Healthy Schools Self-Assessment & Planning Template (coming soon). Still others prefer a hybrid, like the BC Healthy Schools Assessment. Choose the one that your team is most comfortable with.


Sources and Resources

BC Healthy Schools Network. BC Healthy Schools Assessment. Retrieved Mar 20, 2012.

Joint Consortium for School Health. JCSH Healthy School Planner. Retrieved Mar 20, 2012.

Joint Consortium for School Health. JCSH Positive Mental Health Toolkit. Retrieved Mar 20, 2012.

Based on their self-assessed strengths and areas for improvement, the team selects one or more areas to work on. They set meaningful goals, and plan and implement comprehensive actions that support those goals. Foundations for a Healthy School (coming soon) can provide ideas on how to proceed.

Once the assessment is complete, schools have a clearer picture of their strengths and areas for improvement and can identify areas for action. Schools often choose their focus areas by looking at these findings, and by reviewing Manitoba’s six important health issues for schools, and current and upcoming Healthy Schools Provincial Campaigns.  Taking advantage of the funding available through the Provincial Campaigns can give schools a boost in getting their Healthy Schools initiative off the ground.

Depending on the age range of the students, and the needs and interests of the school community, some health topics will resonate more with the team and the school. Many schools start with just one area, such as physical activity or healthy eating. They find that this initial single focus leads to a broader set of policies and practice which, combined, create a school culture that supports greater student health and achievement.

Once the healthy schools team selects one or more focus areas, they develop a plan for creating positive change. An ideal plan would include:

  • goals for each area of improvement,
  • strategies for achieving the desired results,
  • timelines for implementation,
  • a communication strategy for keeping the school community up-to-date on progress and
  • team member(s) or others assigned to lead each strategy.

Healthy schools initiatives have the greatest impact when their strategies and actions fully address all four pillars of the comprehensive school health (CSH) framework in an integrated, holistic way. The pillars are:

  • social and physical environment
  • teaching and learning
  • healthy school policy
  • partnerships and services

For examples of how to use the CSH to address health topics in a holistic way, see Foundations for a Healthy School (coming soon).

Tip:  Make your plans realistic and look for some “quick wins”. Starting with activities that require little cost, little time and little effort and that will be highly valued by the entire school community is a good idea. These quick wins help the school experience the benefits of the healthy schools approach and create greater school support, enthusiasm and interest. This increased support will allow the team to tackle other areas that may require more time, effort and cost.


Sources and Resources

BC Healthy Schools Network. BC Healthy Schools Assessment. Retrieved Mar 20, 2012.

Joint Consortium for School Health. JCSH Healthy School Planner. Retrieved Mar 20, 2012.

Joint Consortium for School Health. JCSH Positive Mental Health Toolkit. Retrieved Mar 20, 2012.

Schools acknowledge and celebrate their achievements in making healthy changes. This motivates and energizes schools to continue making improvements.

Implementing a healthy school approach involves an ongoing process of consultation, action and reflection and keeping everyone informed. Communicating healthy school plans and accomplishments with students, staff, families, and the whole school community generates feelings of commitment and connectedness to the school or service, and ownership of the strategies that are implemented.

When you share your school's success with other schools and districts, you help them make improvements by providing concrete ideas as well as inspiration. Submit as many healthy school success stories as you like. Learn about the healthy schools initiatives at other Manitoba schools

Tip:  Share your success with the wider community. Local media are often interested in covering good news stories at schools. Positive media coverage can build pride and commitment within your school community.


Sources and Resources

BC Healthy Schools Network. BC Healthy Schools Assessment. Retrieved Mar 20, 2012.

Joint Consortium for School Health. JCSH Healthy School Planner. Retrieved Mar 20, 2012.

Joint Consortium for School Health. JCSH Positive Mental Health Toolkit. Retrieved Mar 20, 2012.


Repeat the process and find new ways to improve.

Becoming a healthy school is an ongoing process. Periodically, schools re-assess to confirm the progress they have made, refine their plans and to identify new needs and priorities.

Healthy school initiatives are more successful if they involve everyone - school leaders, students and their families, staff and the whole school community.  When there is leadership support and everyone is committed, health promoting activities can be well planned, coordinated, implemented, and sustainable over the long-term.

 

 




Healthy Schools is a partnership of:
Health, Seniors and Active Living
Education and Training | Healthy Child Manitoba