Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates


Schools Prepare for Likely Implementation of Child-Nutrition Law: Some Colorado schools are preparing to implement the new Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act, which is expected to be signed into law by President Barack Obama. If approved, the law will increase the free-lunch subsidy for schools that improve nutrition standards. Some people are concerned the additional funding may not be enough for schools to meet the bill's goals, and restricting unhealthy items typically sold in school vending machines could affect schools' fund-raising.

Documentary Focuses on the Downside of the Pressure to Achieve: A new documentary film, Race to Nowhere, focuses on the pressure being put on students at a young age to be academically, athletically, and socially competitive and successful. "When success is defined by high grades, test scores, [and] trophies, we know that we end up with unprepared, disengaged, exhausted and ultimately unhealthy kids," a child psychologist says in the film. Some say the film is the antithesis of the recent documentary Waiting for Superman, which advocates standardized testing as a way to hold the education system accountable.

Minn. Teachers Integrate Movement, Dance Into Curriculum: Some Minnesota educators are beginning to incorporate more movement, dance, and the arts into classroom lessons, thanks to a two-year professional development program. One high school philosophy teacher asks students to consider the roles that emotion and reason play in analyzing art, and then students dance the salsa or the merengue as part of the lesson. Some teachers say students are better able to grasp the concepts of a lesson when movement is included.


Just Push Play: Just Push Play, a North Carolina statewide intervention which aims to get kids moving and active, offers web resources such as PowerPoint trainings for staff, classroom energizers to get students physically active, parent resources, and proposal writing tips, among other useful guidance for developing an active school community. Check out these resources and this toolbox for more information.

Community Schools Making the Difference: Explore the conditions for learning in Chapter Two of this resource document (PDF) from whole child partner the Coalition for Community Schools. The document makes a research-based case for the advantages of community school initiatives.

Addressing Poverty to Improve Child Well-Being: It seems obvious that reducing poverty would have a significant effect on child health and well-being. A new report commissioned by First Focus describes how the United Kingdom has managed to achieve a reduction in child poverty during the recession and intends to end child poverty by 2020. It offers insight to how the North America can learn lessons from Britain’s success. You can also access a U.S. congressional briefing on this issue.

Take Action

How to Stop Bullying: Today, when school safety gets daily buzz, few issues threaten students like bullying. Whether through stealthy whispering campaigns, high-tech slagging that goes viral, inappropriate physical contact, or outright violence, many students suffer the psychological, emotional, and physical effects of school bullying—often daily. How do school staff take a stand to stop bullies in their tracks and ensure that a culture of mutual respect flourishes in their school? How should schools support the victims of bullying? What antibullying policies significantly reduce or eliminate name calling, demeaning, and physically hurting classmates? How can schools involve families to tackle bullying?

ASCD Express is looking for short, 600- to 1,000-word essays on the theme "How to Stop Bullying." Please send your submissions by December 22, 2010.

PE, Recess, and Beyond: The Implications of Movement: Join us throughout December and January as we explore why physical activity and physical education (PA & PE) are critical to educating the whole child. We'll examine the research about the need for PA & PE; explore some of the recent criticism; examine the relationship between PA & PE and academic achievement, engagement, and social and emotional health and learning; and consider how physical activity can be expanded across the day.

This episode of the Whole Child Podcast starts our PA & PE conversation with moderator Sean Slade, director of ASCD Healthy School Communities, and guests

Have you seen a decrease in physical activity and physical education in your school and community? What is the effect on young people in your life?

Healthy School Communities is a worldwide ASCD effort to promote the integration of health and learning and the benefits of school-community collaboration. It is part of a large, multiyear plan to shift public dialogue about education from a narrow, curriculum-centric and accountability system focus to a whole child approach that encompasses all factors required for successful student outcomes. Visit the Healthy School Communities group on ASCD EDge and share everything from ideas and solutions to common concerns.

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