What's so Great about Coordinated School Health?


Obesity isn’t the only health problem plaguing students in our schools.

Our students are experiencing mental health problems stemming from bullying and the need to assimilate difficult social norms; they are subjected to infectious diseases and spreading viruses like influenza and norovirus; they are engaging in risky and potentially fatal behaviors that involve drugs and alcohol. girl-playing-1

In short: they are failing to make healthy lifestyle choices on their own. But there is an answer: coordinated school health.

Coordinated school health is a comprehensive strategy that aims to improve the overall health and wellness of our students using eight core components:

  1. Health education
  2. Physical education
  3. Health services
  4. Nutrition services
  5. Counseling and psychological services
  6. Healthy school environment
  7. Staff wellness
  8. Family/community involvement

These components—the Great Eight—conspire to inspire real change in your school’s health program. Take a look at what results after you institute a coordinated health program in your school.

Better Grades

It has been proven that a student’s grades can be linked to his or her overall health. Ergo, the better the student’s health is, the better her grades are. It follows, then, that any program designed to improve a student’s health will also improve academic success.

Closing the Achievement Gap

Since coordinated school health programs are blind to race, gender, and ability, they succeed in bridging the achievement gap between these demographics. First, everyone gets the same opportunities to speak with professional counselors, eat the same nutritious meals, use the same emergency services, and learn the same information.

Second, since coordinated school health programs include a community and family wellness component, over time they can help change social or cultural norms responsible for poor health and poor grades, which is especially evident in environments where access to nutritious and fresh food is rare.

Fewer Health Problems

But let’s not focus on just academic success. After all, if the health of your students is improving, that’s cause for celebration on its own. Still, it’s easy to say that your students will become healthier. Let’s look at how:

Basis in Education

From a physical health standpoint, your kids will benefit from PE classes that improve fitness by combining core competencies like motor skills, strength, endurance, critical thinking, teamwork and leadership. They’ll also have extensive emergency care services in the event of an injury, whether it’s a trained school nurse or another medical professional.

For mental health, students will have the chance to speak with counselors and psychologists who can recognize myriad disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, and potentially dangerous events, such as bullying. These professionals can also recognize problems at home that affect the physical or mental well-being of the student.

In addition, a coordinated school health program focuses on classroom-based education wherein students will learn how to make the right decisions to lead a healthy lifestyle. That includes information about alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, sexuality, violence and injury prevention, nutrition, and physical activity.

This basis in education is just the beginning of how your students become healthier. The more they know about how to stay healthy and make the right decisions, the better they will be able to bring that information home with them and practice making those decisions in their own lives.

Higher Quality of Life

Usually, schools offer a patchwork system of uncoordinated programs that have no common goals. While this can improve certain aspects of your students’ education, its success pales in comparison to the school-wide effect of the coordinated school health program. By teaching the right information and providing an extensive support network for your students, you’ll create an environment that lets them thrive.

When a school has implemented all eight components of coordinated school health, living a healthy lifestyle becomes second nature to the students. The culture of the school changes, and before long it is acceptable to seek help for mental health problems. Soon, it’s no problem to choose a salad for lunch instead of French fries. And before long, it’s okay to decide not to drink or do drugs.

Better health, better grades; better health, better lives. That is what is so great about coordinated school health.

Click Here to learn more about the SPARK’s Coordinated School Health Initiative and the resources available for educators and administrators.