Sean Slade

The Evolution of School Health

The first tenet of a whole child approach to education is healthy. Each student, in each school and in each community, should enter school healthy and learn about and practice a healthy lifestyle. We know that if students aren't healthy, they can't learn; therefore, health is the most basic of the tenets of education.

For the past decade, ASCD has been working on strengthening the links between health and education. These two essential sectors must align and work collaboratively if we are to truly support students and their growth and learning. If we are serving the same students in the same location and for the same needs, it makes sense to work together.

In 1987, noted school health experts Diane Allensworth and Lloyd Kolbe introduced the Coordinated School Health Model, in which school health is illustrated as a necessary foundation for not only healthy students, but also healthy and effective schools. And although this has been a well-established, easily understood model for the past two decades, it hasn't had the effect inside education circles as its potential held.

In 2011, ASCD published The Healthy School Communities Model: Aligning Health and Education in the School Setting (PDF) and asked for a paradigm shift in how education and health are viewed. ASCD is now going even further. In collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are bringing together experts from across the fields of health and education to work together and embed school health firmly within a whole child approach to education.

Stay tuned throughout 2013 as ASCD and the CDC produce what we believe will be the next evolution of school health and one that ensures that health is seen as fundamental to the success of the whole child.

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Comments (1)

Stephanie Kooser

May 6, 2013

Perhaps this is a long shot, or only marginally related to the topic of “health” in education, BUT, I am so intrigued by the idea of physically healthy students as a platform for success in the classroom (and beyond). I am a teacher of students with autism, and I can’t help but make connections between what they receive for school-provided breakfast and lunch and their performance (or lack thereof) in my self-contained classroom. Of course I am also taking in to account the fact that many of my students are heavily medicated and don’t have the opportunity for sufficient physical activity. In my mind, this is one toxic soup of a combination… and it’s only the tip of the iceberg where physical and mental health is concerned. I am hoping to find a Ph.D. program that would combine my experience in the classroom with some version of medical dietetics and/or research that would study nutritional interventions and therapies for our students… it’s such a broad request, I know, but any information or suggestions as to where to begin would be greatly appreciated.

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