263225 Healthy Schools Brooklyn: Giving schools a helping hand to implement school wellness policies

Monday, October 29, 2012

Audrey Castillo, MPH , Brooklyn District Public Health Office, NYC DOHMH, Brooklyn, NY
Poulette Olmos, BA , School Health, NYC DOHMH, Queens, NY
Kimberly E. Bylander, MPH , New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Brooklyn District Public Health Office, Brooklyn, NY
K. Aletha Maybank, MD, MPH , Brooklyn District Public Health Office, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Brooklyn, NY
Sarah Timmins-DeGregory, MPH , NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Brooklyn District Public Health Office, Brooklyn, NY
Background: School districts participating in the National School Lunch Program are required to adopt wellness policies to increase physical activity and healthy eating opportunities to combat obesity. In 2010-2011, approximately 20.7% of New York City K8th graders were obese, with higher obesity rates in low-income neighborhoods. The New York City Health Department launched Healthy Schools Brooklyn (HSB) in 2010 to help schools in low-income communities with high obesity rates implement wellness policies. In 2011, HSB convened health and education department staff, students, parents, and community stakeholders from Brownsville and East New York to form a Policy Advisory Committee (PAC). Purpose: The PAC assessed the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) School Wellness Policy, identifying its strengths, as well as sections which would benefit from greater specificity. The PAC drafted a document to inform local school administrators of the wellness policy and created a set of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound) steps to guide implementation. Significance: While a comprehensive NYCDOE Wellness Policy exists, many school administrators lack awareness of the policy; more support is needed for implementation. This collaborative document provides a step-by-step process to aid schools in implementing policies to improve health. Conclusions/Recommendations: Wellness policies provide clear guidelines for schools to shape a healthy environment for students, staff, and parents. Challenges faced at the school level, particularly in low-income communities, prevent many school administrators from implementing policies. Lessons learned from PAC recommendations a useful model for other districts to adopt in implementing wellness policies.

Learning Areas:
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the benefits of including school staff, students, parents, and other school stakeholders in the process of implementing wellness policies. 2. Identify S.M.A.R.T. steps schools can take to implement wellness policies to improve the health of their school community. 3. Describe the importance of a strategic communication plan of wellness policies to the school community. 4. Discuss strategies on how school wellness policies can be maintained.

Keywords: School-Based Programs, Wellness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered