Comprehensive school health will look different at different schools, depending on the needs of the students and the resources and priorities of the school community.
A rural elementary school is focusing on ensuring all students feel safe and have a sense of belonging at recess and lunch hour. Grade 5/6 students in a Playground Leader team use information from classroom discussions and student surveys to identify how students experience recess and lunch hour.
They brainstorm ideas and develop an action plan for the year, including:
This year, staff focus on ensuring new students feel welcome. They also want to ensure that students leaving the school during the year know they are valued members of the school community and will be missed.
A core group of students create a number of strategies to welcome new students, including offering student-led tours, assigning a welcoming buddy for the first month and introducing new peers to other students. A joint group of students and staff meet with new students and their families to review the school's handbook and code of conduct. Students are invited to contribute to a “Welcome to Our School” display in the front hallway.
At the beginning of the school year, staff meeting time was dedicated to develop and discuss strategies for saying goodbye to students who leave during the year. As a result of this brainstorming session, a group of teachers design a package that can be personalized and presented to the student leaving the school.
Students at a high school have become champions of mental health. Two years ago, a student at the school shared her story about her journey with depression. While a shock to many, her story revealed a strong sense of hope as she was thriving in spite of living with depression. Sharing her story encouraged her peers to engage in a number of mental health initiatives at the school. Some of the initiatives included:
Through this work, the school community is raising awareness about available community resources and is building closer relationships with several local agencies. This year, a number of community partners are working with the school to offer sessions for parents/caregivers and educators on mental health, including stress management, anxiety, depression.
Adapted from Developing Healthy School Communities, University of Alberta, School of Public Health, 2014