School Health

Schools play a critical role in promoting the health of young people and helping them establish lifelong healthy behaviors. Research shows that healthy schools can help improve students’ academic performance and overall health.

Well-Ahead works to prevent chronic disease and promote the health and well-being of children and adolescents in schools through partnership development and technical assistance to schools and school districts. Our goal is to ensure all youth have a healthy start to a healthy future.

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School Health 411

Health and academic achievement are closely linked. Research shows healthy students are better learners. Healthy students earn higher grades and test scores and are more likely to complete their formal education. Moreover, academic achievement is an excellent indicator of children’s overall well-being and a strong predictor and determinant of adult health outcomes. However, youth risk behaviors, such as physical inactivity and unhealthy dietary behaviors, are consistently linked to poor grades and test scores and lower educational attainment. For more information on the relationship between health and learning, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Healthy Schools (CDC Healthy Schools).

Did YOU KNOW? 

 

The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model aligns the common goals of the public health and education sectors to put into action a whole child approach to education. The WSCC model is student-centered and emphasizes the role of the community in supporting the school, the connections between health and academic achievement and the importance of evidence-based policies and practices. Well-Ahead uses the WSCC model as a framework for addressing health in schools.

Reopening Schools During COVID-19

COVID-19 has presented unique challenges to our schools, and Louisiana has come together to work through solutions. Well-Ahead is working to connect school administrators, teachers and nurses to resources, education and training that support safe reopening.

Click here to learn more!

Louisiana Healthy Schools

Louisiana Healthy Schools is a collaboration between Well-Ahead Louisiana and the Louisiana Department of Education. The aim of Louisiana Healthy Schools is to improve student health and academic achievement through nutrition, physical activity and the management of chronic health conditions, so students stay healthy and ready to learn. With federal funding from the CDC, Louisiana Healthy Schools supports healthier schools by strengthening statewide infrastructure, delivering professional development and training, and providing technical assistance to schools and school districts. To learn more about the Louisiana Healthy Schools initiative, click here.

Statewide Infrastructure

Well-Ahead and the Louisiana Department of Education work to strengthen statewide infrastructure in place to support healthier schools in Louisiana.

Louisiana School Health Advisory Council

The Louisiana School Health Advisory Council (LA SHAC) was established in 2017 to provide regular guidance on the implementation, expansion, and sustainability of Louisiana Healthy Schools’ goals. In addition, the council advises on the coordination of the Healthy Schools Collaborative, a statewide coalition that promotes the adoption of policies, processes and practices that support student health and academic achievement. The LA SHAC and the Healthy Schools Collaborative are coordinated by Well-Ahead and the Louisiana Department of Education.

Vision: Healthy and thriving children; engaged schools; united communities

Mission: To equip and empower Louisiana schools and communities to build and sustain environments where all children are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged

Click here to learn more!

District School Health Advisory Council

The Louisiana State Legislature (RS 17:17:1: Required physical activity in schools) requires each city, parish, and other local public school board to establish a school health advisory council to advise the board on physical activity for students, physical and health education, nutrition, and overall student health, and states the council should include parents of students and individuals representing the community.

Louisiana Healthy Schools helps district school health advisory councils strengthen their local school wellness policies to promote supportive environments where children and adolescents learn about and practice healthy behaviors in school.

For help establishing or reconvening a district school health advisory council, request technical assistance from Louisiana Healthy Schools!

School Wellness Committees

Louisiana Healthy Schools recommends every school form a wellness committee to ensure a healthy school environment for all. A school wellness committee is an action-oriented advisory group that focuses on the health and well-being of students, staff, and families in a school community. The school wellness committee implements the district wellness policy and leads other health-related initiatives.

To help schools identify strengths and opportunities for improvement, wellness committees can use the School Health Index, a free self-assessment and planning guide from the CDC. The School Health Index is built on research-based guidelines for school health programs that identify the policies and practices most likely to be effective in reducing youth health risk behaviors. The School Health Index aligns with the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model. Louisiana Healthy Schools encourages the use of the School Health Index by all schools for routine assessment to maintain and strengthen school health policies, practices, and programs.

For resources on school wellness committees or the School Health Index, click here.

For help with building a school wellness committee or using the School Health Index, request technical assistance from Louisiana Healthy Schools!

Training and Professional Development

Professional development (PD) is a consciously designed, systematic process that strengthens how staff obtain, retain and apply knowledge, skills and attitudes. Well-Ahead Louisiana works to coordinate statewide in-person and virtual PD and training that supports schools and school districts in creating healthy school environments.

Healthy Schools Training Krewe

The Healthy Schools Training Krewe (Krewe) is a statewide training cadre coordinated by Well-Ahead Louisiana. The Krewe collaborates with Louisiana Department of Education, content leaders, and state organizations to deliver PD. In 2016, the Krewe was launched with the help of federal funding from CDC Healthy Schools. Since 2016, the Krewe has been sustained through federal funding provided by Louisiana Department of Education through CDC Healthy Schools.

Vision: Healthy schools, healthy children

Mission: To enhance the knowledge and skills of those working to create healthier schools

Click here to learn more about the Krewe!

To request the Healthy Schools Training Krewe for in-service training, please email wellahead@la.gov. In your email, please include the name of the school and school district, in-service date, desired training topic(s), and contact information for the training coordinator. Well-Ahead will connect you with a member of Healthy Schools Training Krewe. For in-service training, school districts work directly with Krewe members to coordinate all details. This includes payment, logistics, and training content.

The Krewe focuses on cross-cutting school health topics and best practices that can be applied by school staff in any role. For specialized topics outside the scope of the Krewe (i.e., physical education, school meals, health services), Well-Ahead promotes available training from the Louisiana Department of Education, state associations, and partners. To view state organizations that provide additional resources and professional development, please click here.

Healthy Schools Academy

On October 27, 2020, Louisiana Healthy Schools presented the Healthy Schools Academy, a virtual professional development opportunity dedicated to improving student health and academic achievement. Session recordings are available to watch on-demand.

Click here to access on-demand sessions and resources!

Evaluation

Louisiana Healthy Schools evaluates professional development to assess how training can be improved and to ascertain the impact of training over time. Surveys are used to collect data and inform the design and delivery of professional development by leveraging identified strengths and addressing identified limitations or barriers. Evaluation of Louisiana Healthy Schools’ professional development is coordinated by Well-Ahead and reported annually.

Evaluation of professional development conducted during the 2019-2020 school year found:

  • 1,172 individuals participated in training from Louisiana Healthy Schools.
  • 85% (N=996) of training attendees work at the school level.
  • 15% (N=176) of training attendees work at the district level.
  • 95% (N=290) of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they acquired the intended skills from the training.
  • 97% (N=295) of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they could apply the skills gained to support a healthy school environment in their school or community.

Self-Paced Virtual Learning

Technical Assistance

Louisiana Healthy Schools is here to help schools and school districts take action to positively impact the health of students and school staff. Well-Ahead and the Louisiana Department of Education provide technical assistance to support the implementation of evidence-based practices for cultivating a healthy school environment.  

Click here to request technical assistance!

Schools can request technical assistance to:

  • Start or convene a school wellness committee
  • Complete the School Health Index
  • Understand state school health requirements
  • Learn about resources and funding opportunities
  • Receive tailored guidance
  • Find a community partner