School Wellness Makes Strides
School Wellness Makes Strides

The "School Wellness" movement is growing in schools across the nation from the classroom to the lunchroom. We have seen a blossoming of school wellness programs across California and the rest of the nation with the requirement to have a School Wellness Policy.

School Wellness Paths = Same End Goal

Policies and programs all have the same end goals: to improve the health and well-being of students and create a healthy school environment where individuals reach their potential. We see examples of wellness that run the gamut of possibilities. Here are some notable strategies that may work for your school:

Provide Opportunities to Self-Motivate

A recent study suggests kids need strong internal motivation in order to get fit, not micro-management. Successful strategies encourage kids to get healthy on their own. For example, training kids to prepare simple meals so they can improve their health habits by themselves and not have to rely so much on others.

Students also need to know which choices are healthy choices. Imagine if students received nutrition education each year while in elementary school--that would mean at least 7 years of education preparing them to be self-sufficient and successful in their food and activity choices as adults.

Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

healthy lunchesWhen choices are taken away, most people tend to rebel, which results in unintended consequences. Best models encourage conscious choice which will lead to a better chance of a continued behavior.

When schools make subtle environmental changes, more students freely make the healthier choice--a theory expressed by Brian Wansink and David R. Just from Cornell University. Their article on Behavioral Economics makes a fascinating case that simple changes to the cafeteria i.e. a Smarter Lunchroom lead to healthier choices.

Blur the Line Between Learning and Playing

Gaming technology may be an economical way to engage more people in wellness programs. Psychologists found that the most successful programs incorporated web or mobile device-based games that helped people change behaviors through a series of achievable goals.

Remember Schools are Workplaces Too

nutrition educationIt’s often overlooked that schools are also workplaces for many thousands of people. We recently shared some invigorating ways to link wellness to teachers (and administrator and staff).

Employee wellness, aka Workplace Wellness, plays a huge role in health and happiness of adults on campus and keeps consistency with your health messages. When adults engage in healthy behaviors, children take notice and will likely emulate those role model behaviors.

Build Wellness Into the Environment

The big picture is important in school wellness. The goal is to create an environment for success: one that encourages adults and children to make healthier choices both inside and outside of the school gates.