Sustainable School Health Programs
Healthy School Environments for Students
We understand that creating a culture of school health and wellness doesn’t happen overnight, which is why we are here to support schools with guidance and resources to establish healthier school environments.
By following the steps outlined below, schools will ensure success and sustainability while helping to promote healthy behaviors in their students that can last a lifetime.
Louisiana School Health Advisory Council
Established in 2017, the Louisiana School Health Advisory Council (LA SHAC) mission is to equip and empower Louisiana schools and communities to build and sustain environments where all children are healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged.
1. Build Support
Having a team is essential to implementing successful and sustainable change. In the Whole School, Whole Community Whole Child (WSCC) model, a student-centered framework that emphasizes community support for healthy schools, the CDC recommends including representation from 10 components in your School Health Advisory Council.
While Louisiana law requires school districts to create a district-level school health advisory committee, Well-Ahead Louisiana helps makes it easy. The School Health Advisory Councils (SHAC) is responsible for advising the school board on physical activity for students, physical and health education, nutrition and overall student health. The council should include parents of students and individuals representing the community. We support SHACs with resources and educational opportunities, so they can create a culture of health and wellness in their schools and districts.
In addition, every Louisiana school should 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.
School wellness committees focus on implementing programs and activities that meet the unique needs of their students and staff. These teams support the development of a healthier school environment by:
- Completing the School Health Index (see Assess Your School section below)
- Promoting the vision and goals for a healthy school to parents, students and the community
- Organizing program and policy efforts
- Collaborating with the district-level advisory council to evaluate policy efforts and assess progress
District-level school health advisory councils work to promote health and wellness in their schools by providing guidance and support for school-level wellness committees. Advisory councils:
- Ensure the district’s local school wellness policy stays up-to-date with changes made by local and federal governments
- Raise awareness of district-level health policies among parents, educators and community members
- Help schools meet the district’s wellness policy
- Identify gaps in policies, programs and processes and find resources to address them.
2. Assess Your School
The CDC’s School Health Index (SHI) gives School Health Advisory Councils an opportunity to reflect, connect and create a roadmap to better student health. The School Health Index is an online form schools use to improve their health and safety policies and programs. School wellness committees and district-level School Health Advisory Councils utilize the School Health Index to create goals and measure successes.
Completing the School Health Index must be a group effort across your school to create a holistic review and approach strategy. Well-Ahead recommends updating your school’s School Health Index every year to create an accurate depiction of progress and successes. The CDC created a helpful guide for using the School Health Index.
District-level School Health Advisory Councils use the School Health Index forms completed by wellness committees to identify strengths, assess weaknesses and provide Overall Score Cards as a snapshot of district-wide progress.
3. Develop an Action Plan
Now that you have established a School Health Advisory Council and School Health Index baseline, school wellness committees should develop an action plan that identifies a few key areas of improvement that district-level School Health Advisory Councils can help monitor and implement at a district level. Creating healthier school environments is better when done together, which is why Well-Ahead recommends that school districts encourage schools to share their action plan with others.
To get started, your school wellness committee should choose one to four areas to improve each year. These action items should generate excitement, lay the foundation for long-term items and align with the health and wellness vision as well as the district’s local wellness policy.
Districts can use the action plans to monitor improvement and implementation of district level policies. Lastly, districts can develop an action plan that supports overall school health and reinforces school-level change.
4. Explore Resources
Now that you have a plan, the next step is to gather the resources needed for implementation.
We recommend district-level School Health Advisory Councils host an annual professional development for educators through the Healthy Schools Training Krewe to support implementation of the district and school action plans.
5. Take Action
Once all of the preparation and planning is in place, it’s time to take action! Wellness committee and advisory council leaders should delegate responsibilities to team members with a follow-up date and periodically check in on progress.
As schools meet milestones, it is important to celebrate them! There’s nothing better than a celebration for a job well done. Celebrating successes helps build momentum and encourage others to join in the fun of creating healthier, happier school environments.
Need Assistance? Connect with Us!
We provide technical assistance to support the implementation of evidence-based practices for cultivating a healthy school environment.
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