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Research has shown that healthy children are better learners. Most children spend the majority of their time at school. This makes it important to create conditions at school that will lead to good health and good learning. A student's self-esteem and well-being are intertwined with academic achievement and behaviour. An unhealthy student cannot function well in the classroom, regardless of the instructional approaches or the overall school environment.
Responsibility for the health and well-being of children belongs to the entire community. The school is often best positioned to serve as a hub for meeting the needs of the child. With many students living in stressful environments, the school may be one of the only stable influences in the lives of many children. It is also the setting where children have an opportunity to observe and explore ideas about healthy living with their peers and with the support of educators.
Programs developed in response to perceived crises (especially if accompanied by scare tactics and preaching) and initiatives based solely on external speakers or presentations with little further involvement of the school community do not produce long-lasting benefits. Instead, a comprehensive Healthy Schools approach is the most effective method to address the needs of children and families.
Healthy Schools is an integrated approach promoting opportunities for students to observe and learn positive health attitudes and behaviours. The four components of a Healthy School are:
This integrated approach becomes imbedded in school culture, affecting decisions about issues such as school lunches, fundraising and opportunities for physical activity. It is a way of conducting the business of the school while promoting the well-being of students and their families.
A Healthy Schools approach fosters
and applies a philosophy of
health and learning across all school activities.
Adapted and used with permission of the Community and Healthy Services
Department of The Regional Municipality of York.