School Wellness Strategies that Work: Achievable Outcomes That Benefit Underserved Children
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
School wellness programs are not only difficult to establish, but to also sustain. The elements of a sustainable wellness program in an elementary school district consisting of 10 schools in 3 racially diverse, low-income communities are described. The use of a relationship-based approach to identify and actively collaborate with community partners to promote student health underlies the success of this effort. Articulation of a clear mission and vision as the basis for development of sustainable policies and systems as well as strategies to create and maintain momentum in an unfavorable economic climate are highlighted. Common barriers to change, strategies to overcome resistance and the importance of maintaining a unified focus are addressed. Lessons learned include the importance of using sound project management strategies such as regular identification and reassessment of priorities, acquisition of broad-based buy-in from key stakeholders and careful attention to timing. Factors that promote the overall success of the district’s wellness initiatives are close collaboration with a nearby School-based Health Center, receipt of grant money to fund small projects and use of evidence-based criteria to guide School Wellness Council work. Systematic improvements in food service delivery, daily opportunities for physical activity in the classrooms, and an active in-school influenza vaccination program are evidence that a culture of wellness is present in the district 5 years after initial implementation of the school wellness policy. Outcomes of these efforts include improved student attendance and classroom behavior, and early evidence that a decrease in child obesity may be on the horizon.
Administration, management, leadership
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related nursing
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Describe the common facilitators and barriers to success of school wellness initiatives.
Identify evidence-based resources that can aid implementation of a coordinated school wellness program.
Keyword(s): Community-Based Partnership & Collaboration, Wellness
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have served as the Community Health Outreach Nurse to School District 89 for 5 years. I have been a partner in establishing and sustaining the District Wellness Council and all of its initiatives. I have authored 4 grants that provided funding for wellness initiatives in the schools and coordinated those efforts. I am nursing faculty at Loyola University, teach pediatrics and community health. I have been a pediatric nurse/ nurse practitioner for 35 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines,
and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed
in my presentation.