Education and health go hand in hand. Well-fed, rested children are better learners, and the more education a person has, the healthier they tend to be. School is an important setting when it comes to the health and wellbeing of children.
Classroom lessons which build awareness and teach skills are the first that come to mind, and there is definitely a place for formal teaching. But teachers can’t do it all! What is taught also needs to be supported by a healthy physical and social environment within the school, school policies that support health, and partnerships with individuals and organizations in the community. This approach to wellness is called comprehensive school health.
Healthy school environments create respectful, trusting relationships between all members of the school community: administrators, teachers, other school staff, students, parents and the community at large. These relationships matter: students who feel connected to school, parents and peers are more likely to go to school, apply themselves, and graduate. They are also less likely to drink, smoke or use drugs.
Healthy school environments also provide students with a safe physical environment and a range of physical and cultural activities, from basketball to baseball, from dance to drum-making.
Policies simply guide our actions. Policies can be guidelines, rules, and regulations, laws, principles, or directions. They say what is to be done, who is to do it, how it is to be done and for (or to) whom it is to be done.
School policies which reflect community values and guide decision making and action are needed on issues like the foods that are served or sold in schools, the use of the gym after hours, and how to respond to bullying.
Partnerships with parents, health care providers, First Nations elders, sport and recreation leaders and many others can support the work of teachers and principals, and help ensure that children and youth are getting consistent messages from all adults and organizations in the community.
There is an important role for parents and community members to play in educating and supporting our children in school.
- Volunteer in the classroom or help prepare food for hungry kids.
- Run for school council.
- Organize a fundraising event.
- Bring your ideas and passions to the attention of the principal or school council – get them interested in what interests you and then work to make change happen.