Research shows that effective schools to which students feel connected can have an impact on health. The research also shows that health and education are interdependent, as healthy students are better learners, and better-educated individuals are healthier.
A health promoting schools approach integrates the curriculum, a healthy school environment, health services, and parent and community involvement in a coordinated fashion for the benefit of both students and staff. Because poor academic performance shares risk factors with health risk behaviours, the health promoting schools approach aims to contribute to improved learning. Furthermore, in a dynamic and vibrant health promoting school, participation, empowerment, equity, and democratic processes are emphasized. Students and staff take active responsibility for their own health and that of the school environment. In so doing, they are practicing citizenship in their school community and contributing directly to the core mission of schools.
Health Promoting Schools in Nova Scotia has adopted four interrelated pillars :
- Healthy School Policy
- Teaching and Learning
- Social and Physical Environment
- Parnerships and Services
The Health Promoting Schools initiative is a whole-school approach that involves more than just encouraging students to eat well and exercise.
A Health Promoting School:
- promotes a social environment that nurtures quality relationships between staff and students, as well as parents, guardians, and the community
- focuses on helping students acquire the skills and develop the knowledge they need to make healthy choices for themselves and others in their community
- develops healthy school policies that promote health and well-being, including healthy eating and physical activity
- links with local and mental health services to promote students’ social and emotional development, eliminate barriers to learning, reduce psychological stress, and improve social interactions for all students
- ensures clean, well-designed safe spaces that provide students with a healthy physical environment in which to learn and play
- develops partnerships to obtain support from all stakeholders