Steps to Take With Your School!
1. Create a shared sense of mission by understanding and being able to articulate the connection between health and learning. Getting administrative support is critical.
Example: An administrator at a high school in the Portland Area presented to district leaders and community partners on the link between student health and learning. The group continued to meet and ultimately received funding to do planning around establishing a School Based Health Center at the school.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention - Division of Adolescent and School Health
Society of State Directors of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation
2. Maximize the resources at the table by banding together with other school stakeholders to form a School Health Advisory Council (SHAC). This is a group of people who come together to engage in Coordinated School Health planning, development of an action plan, and the implementation of meaningful policies, programs, and activities that support school health.
Example: An alternative school in Central Oregon created a SHAC to guide school planning around health. The group worked together to determine how to bring increased resources to the student population. Through the group's efforts a new school was constructed and fitness equipment was donated from community partners.
American Cancer Society, American School Health Association, et al.
3. Use credible data to make decisions about how to address student risk factors. Schools that participate in the Oregon Healthy Teens Survey or Oregon Student Wellness Survey are given a report with their school’s data. Work with other school stakeholders to understand what the data is saying, what it is not saying, how to promote wellness, prevent problems and address risks to student health.>
Example: An elementary school in The Dalles planned a lot of activities to boost student physical activity. When school administrators, staff and community partners looked at their school's data from the Elementary Survey they realized that many of their kids did not wear helmets when riding their bikes. They received donated helmets from community partners and provided them to their students. They supported both physical activity and injury prevention!
Oregon Healthy Teens Survey, Oregon Public Health Division
Student Wellness Survey
Elementary School Survey, Oregon Public Health Division
Available upon request ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
4. In regards to school health policies, programs, and strategies, what is your school doing well? Where could your school improve? Find out the answers to these questions by using the School Health Index (SHI). The SHI is a self assessment and planning tool developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is free and it has helped thousands of schools!
Example: A middle school in Southwest Oregon used the School Health Index as part of their Coordinated School Health planning process. This tool focuses on eight facets of a school: Health Education; School Environment and Policy; Counseling, Psychological and Social Services, Physical Education, Health Services, Nutrition Services, Staff Health Promotion, and Family and Community Partnerships. The school noticed that Staff Health promotion was something they could improve on. They worked with staff to implement activities to reduce stress and increase physical activity.
School Health Index, Center for Disease Control and Prevention
5. After a group of school and community partners have taken the steps above, they are in a good place to decide on health priorities, research best practices and make a measurable action plan.
Example: An intermediate school on the Oregon Coast created an action plan that helped all members of their School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) stay on track. The plan included specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-phased (SMART) objectives. The actions that the school included in the plan were based on evidence and reflected local priorities. The action plan was a living document that was revised as needed. It served as a clear point of reference at each SHAC meeting. It also included space to write down evidence of success!
Best Practices on a variety of topics can be found here:
For best practices related to mental health, look here:
Center for School Mental Health, University of Maryland
UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools
For more information please contact Isabelle Barbour