Category: School Health Promotion, Schools

Schools can have a big impact not only on the education of their students, but also on the health and well-being of their community as a whole. Schools in Catahoula and Concordia parishes are making a difference and leading their communities to a healthier future.

Catahoula and Concordia parishes are rural and federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) which means residents often face more barriers to accessing healthcare services such as the COVID-19 vaccine. Well-Ahead Louisiana and the Louisiana Department of Education’s partnership Louisiana Healthy Schools worked with non-profit organization EatMoveGrow to support outreach and vaccine education in these parishes.

In October 2021, four schools in Catahoula and Concordia parishes, Sicily Island High School, Jonesville Elementary, Block High School, and Vidalia Lower Elementary School, were selected to be partners in receiving education and support to increase access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Students, parents, faculty and community members had access to tailored vaccination education materials that utilized evidence-based messaging and information from the Office of Public Health.

COVID-19 vaccination events were held at the schools to ensure residents had access to the initial dose of the vaccine and received support in scheduling follow-up appointments for their second dose. Through partnerships with local organizations, word spread to the community about these school vaccination events and, as a result, 69 individuals received a COVID-19 vaccine.

In addition to hosting the vaccination clinics, the schools also received resources to move their school’s health forward. The schools installed water bottle filling stations to reduce waste and ensure students have better access to clean, safe drinking water. Some schools also received funding for equipment, such as yoga mats, jump ropes and basketballs that will allow for expanded opportunities for students to be physically active and play together.

The schools are also supporting student well-being through incorporating social-emotional learning in the classroom. Through monthly lesson plans and activity sheets, EatMoveGrow provides these schools the tools to support more aspects of their students’ health.

By collaborating with their school wellness committees and strong community partnerships, these schools demonstrated a commitment to the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model—a student-centered framework that emphasizes the role of the community in supporting schools, the connections between health and academic achievement and the importance of evidence-based policies and practice. Through their efforts to improve the health of their students the schools are also supporting the health and well-being of their communities.

If you’re a school leader interested in learning more about the resources for building a culture of health in your school available through Well-Ahead, visit our school health page.