A Healthy Schools approach, also known as Comprehensive School Health, is an internationally recognized and effective approach for building healthy school communities. The approach involves the whole school community coming together to share ideas, plan and take action to help kids lead healthy, active lives.
Ontario’s Ministry of Education has developed a framework for healthy schools, entitled Foundations for a Healthy School (link) that outlines the five key, interconnected areas that need to be addressed when looking at the health of a school community in a comprehensive way:
- Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
- Providing both formal and informal learning opportunities before, after and during school that help students and staff to learn, practice and promote positive and healthy behaviours
- School and Classroom Leadership
- Identifying and implementing shared goals, priorities, policies and practices that help shape a safe and healthy school setting
- Student Engagement
- Offering opportunities, support and encouragement for students to be active leaders and contributors to matters related to their learning, the learning environment and their well-being
- Social and Physical Environments
- Creating a social climate and physical environment (e.g. school grounds equipment and building, sidewalks near school, etc.) that supports healthy choices and behaviours
- Home, School and Community Partnerships
- Engaging and making strong connections between schools, families, community groups, public health, local businesses and other stakeholders in student health and well-being
These five components align with the Ministry of Education’s K-12 School Effectiveness Framework.
A Healthy Schools approach builds on what is already happening in the classroom, and the goal is to integrate actions in all five components to support and inspire young people to realize their full potential as learners and grow to become healthy, productive members of society.
The Foundations for a Healthy School resource addresses six curriculum-linked health topics:
- Healthy Eating
- Physical Activity
- Personal Safety and Injury Prevention
- Substance Use, Addictions and Related Behaviours
- Growth and Development
- Mental Health
Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities – How You Can Make a Difference
This is an illustrated video developed by Ophea’s Physical Activity Resource Centre (PARC) that is designed to explain the healthy schools approach and support individuals and communities in working towards healthy schools.