On this page educators will find resources, tools, and contacts for supporting a healthy school community.
The Ontario Ministry of Education explains that “Healthy Schools are key to establishing the learning conditions necessary to help students reach their full potential. With these conditions in place, students are more likely to adopt healthy, active habits and continue with them throughout their lives”.
The Healthy Schools Approach is an internationally recognized framework, also supported by the Ontario Ministry of Education (Foundations for a Healthy School), that addresses school health in a planned, integrated, and holistic way to enhance the health and well-being of students. The Healthy Schools approach engages the whole school community (e.g., students, families, community partners). It is rooted in the evidence that health and education are interdependent: healthy students are better prepared to learn, and education is a key determinant of health.
Ophea outlines the benefits as follows:
- Healthier Students! When students are healthy, they are better prepared to learn and able to enjoy the time they spend at school.
- Healthy Choices! The healthier choice becomes the easier choice when everyone around our students are working together to create a healthy school.
- Lifelong Healthy Living! The healthy skills that students develop and practice now can lead them through a life of healthy living.
The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit’s school team consists of: A School Health Coordinator, Public Health Nurses (PHN), a Public Health Nutritionist (Registered Dietitian), Health Promoters, Registered Dental Hygienists and Certified Dental Assistants. This team works in partnership with school boards and schools to create healthy and supportive environments. Examples of this work include: providing services such as immunizations and oral health screenings, as well as, working on health promotion initiatives on a variety of health topics.
Each school has an assigned Public Health Nurse (PHN) who works in the school’s geographic area. The School PHN is a health knowledge broker, capacity builder, facilitator, and advocate for health in the school community. The School PHN can assist school communities to identify strengths and health concerns in order to build healthier school environments, using the Healthy Schools Approach. More specifically, the School PHN can assist schools by:
- Navigating the Health Unit’s resources and services
- Providing consultations and resources (e.g., related to curriculum, healthy school environments)
- In-servicing principals, teachers, parents, and community partners on a variety of health related topics and programs
- Normalizing parenting support
- Fostering student engagement and leadership
- Supporting existing and emerging healthy school committees, policies and practices
- Connecting the school community to services and programs offered by other community partners
The School PHN can also facilitate consultations with the Public Health Nutritionist (Registered Dietitian), Health Promoter, Registered Dental Hygienists, Certified Dental Assistants, and other Public Health professionals.
Together we can create healthier school communities!
Foundations for a Healthy School: This Ontario Ministry of Education resource supports the integration of healthy schools policies, programs and initiatives into school and school board planning and implementation processes. It aligns with the components of the K–12 School Effectiveness Framework by including the following five interconnected areas: Curriculum, Teaching and Learning; School and Classroom Leadership; Student Engagement; Social and Physical Environments; Home, School and Community Partnerships.
Healthy Schools Certification: Ophea’s Healthy Schools Certification recognizes and celebrates school communities for promoting and enhancing the health and well-being of students, school staff, and the broader community. The goals are to: support and increase the capacity of schools across Ontario to address a priority health topic through the effective implementation of the 6-Step Healthy Schools Process, and celebrate and formally recognize an individual school’s achievements relating to Healthy Schools.