We talk about Comprehensive School Health (CSH) quite a lot here at DASH. It is mentioned in our resources, our blog posts, and pretty much everywhere else. Sure, you understand that CSH is a holistic, whole school approach to health, but what does it really look like?
Comprehensive school health encompasses the whole school environment with four inter-related pillars; relationships and environments, teaching and learning, community partnerships, and our school policies. When these pillars are addressed together, students are supported to realize their full potential as learners and healthy members of society.
It may a bit difficult to envision all these pillars coming together, so let’s take a look at a real life example of CSH. The Merced City School District in California has been using a CSH approach to address healthy eating with their Health and Wellness Committee.
Relationships and Environments:
Merced has noticed that student-student relationships play a big role in healthy eating. Students are more willing to try new foods if their peers are telling them about it or also trying it. Staff members also have an influence on the healthy eating habits of students and need to be positive role models if they want to see change. Healthy snacks are being provided for staff in Merced to set a good example, with the added benefit of change in the staff members’ eating habits as well. The physical environment plays a role as well; healthy cafeteria options and adding a school garden are just some examples of setting the right environment for healthy eating.
Teaching and Learning:
This pillar is not just about teachers and students, but about the many learning opportunities available both inside and outside of school. The Health and Wellness Committee are trying to engage students in eating healthy foods by creating a Culinary Council to taste-test healthy foods that could be incorporated into their schools’ cafeterias. This gives students opportunities to learn about new foods and have a voice in what they want. Parents are also learning about healthy eating, both through their children and through health presentations put on by the Health and Wellness Committee.
Working with your community is a great way to involve everyone. The Health and Wellness Committee has built strong relationships with local farmers to provide vegetables and fruits to schools, even past the growing season. They also have partnerships with health clubs in the area for reduced membership fees for staff.
Our School Policies:
Policies are needed to help shape a caring and safe school environment and promote student health and well being. The Merced School District has adopted a health and wellness policy in their schools in order to do so.
What the Merced School District did in each one of these pillars is great, but together they make a lasting impact on students.
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