Coordinated School Health- Motivation for Change


SPARK recently completed a 2-year research study in Louisville, KY for our Coordinated School Health Initiative. Coordinated School Health is an approach to school health that improves students’ health and their capacity to learn through the support of families, schools, and communities working together.

The SPARK research study was designed to pilot our programs and research their effectiveness with elementary schools. Intervention schools were provided curriculum, equipment, and materials in addition to staff development to implement the programs. The desired outcomes of the project were to increase student physical activity levels, health knowledge and improve health behaviors. For teachers and staff the focus was to increase the quality and quantity of nutrition, health and physical education levels as well as improving their own health.

Although the results of the research project won’t be released until this fall, one of the intervention schools has used this opportunity as a springboard to making some significant additions to their school. Locust Grove Elementary has recently partnered with two local hospitals to fund a full-time nutrition education teacher and provide a weekly class for all K-5 students. In addition to adding a nutrition component to their curriculum, they have created a Minds in Motion Lab for physical activity where students will spend 10 minutes a day going through different stations to improve their coordination, motor skill development, balance, and rhythm. The goal of this program is to increase the quantity of physical activity as well as to prepare the brain for learning. Locust Grove also has several policies now in place to support the healthy school environment. The two most significant policies state that all teachers must provide 20 minutes of physical activity every day, and food is not allowed in classrooms for classroom celebrations or to be used as a reward for students.

Making these types of changes requires a commitment not only from the administration to pass the policies and fund the programs, but from the school staff to implement the policies and from the parents to support the changes. Would you like to improve your school environment using the Coordinated School Health Model? Give us a call at SPARK to find out where to start!

-Jeff Mushkin
Project Specialist/Trainer

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