School wellness is the idea that schools should create supportive environments for nutrition, physical activity and overall student wellness. School wellness is important for a child’s growth and development, and for the prevention of various health concerns, like obesity and diabetes.
In the U.S., most children spend an average of 6 to 7 hours a day in school — a majority of their waking hours.
In the U.S., most children spend an average of 6-7 hours a day in school — a majority of their waking hours. This makes school a perfect place to teach about exercise, healthy eating, and making healthy choices.
Research shows that healthier students are better learners. They have better attendance, higher grades, higher scores on standardized tests, and higher graduation rates.
Furthermore, nearly 23% of our region’s children ages 5-17 live in households at or below the poverty line. This puts them at higher risk for poor health and limits their access to healthy food, safe neighborhoods, quality housing, and more.
Fortunately, school wellness policies can help break all of these barriers for our children.
How can we create school wellness?
A Local School Wellness Policy is a written document that guides an educational agency or school in creating school wellness. Every school district that participates in the National School Lunch and/or Breakfast Program must have a wellness policy that:
- Follows nutrition guidelines for all foods and beverages sold, provided, and advertised to students during and after school.
- Sets specific goals for nutrition promotion and education, physical activity opportunities before, during and after school, and any other activities that promote student wellness.
- Involves the school community and general public (including parents, community members, students) in the wellness policy process, such as participating on the wellness committee.
- Informs the public on a yearly basis about the wellness policy and shares assessment results (completed every three years).
School districts can score their policies using the “WellSAT” Wellness School Assessment Tool, which reflects federal law and best practices.
Parents, students and community members can get involved too! Advocate for strong school wellness policies at your local school, or ask about joining the wellness committee.
Further Reading: Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child
The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model is a national framework for addressing health in schools. It revolves around the student and places responsibility on the community to support schools.
It suggests students should play an active role in their learning and health, and families should support healthy behaviors in the home, community and at out-of-school programs.
To learn more about this model, visit www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/wscc.
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