Tools, Tips, and Wisdom for successful School Health Initiatives

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Life and Death from Unnatural Causes: Health and Social Inequity in Alameda County

This 2008 report takes an in-depth look at health inequities and underlying social inequities in Alameda County based on local data.

National and
State Partners

Additional organizations supporting the development of school health initiatives.

Why School Health?

Because student health and wellness is deeply connected to academic success. We use the term “school health” to describe a holistic approach to wellness. We focus not only on the physical health of students – knowing a student can’t learn if they are not present at school, or well-fed, or pain free – but also on the other aspects of wellness that our youth and families need to thrive: social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, and occupational. But schools cannot do this alone, nor should they. School health is a collaborative venture – bringing together the expertise of the health and educator sectors, and leveraging the wisdom of the adults and youth in our schools and communities to enable students to fully engage and realize their potential.

The need is clear. Too many children lack access to the basic conditions and life opportunities that support wellness and school success. Young people living in low-income communities are more likely to lack access to regular, affordable health care, highly resourced schools, recreation opportunities, and career exploration opportunities. And due to the persistent legacy of race-based, discriminatory institutional practices and structural racism, young people of color often face the greatest barriers. These inequities negatively impact health outcomes and educational attainment. Many of the related health problems, such as hunger, asthma, uncorrected vision, and exposure to violence and trauma have been proven to contribute directly to poor academic outcomes.

The solution is equally clear - School Health Works. These strategies are based on research from the fields of education, health and behavioral health, resiliency, neuroscience, youth development, organizational development, and more. And the results are documented in Alameda County and around the country. School health centers increase engagement in school, decrease risky behaviors, and improve health access and utilization among those who are traditionally underserved. School-based behavioral health improves student academic functioning, emotional stability, and relationship skills, and builds the capacity of all adults to support the social-emotional needs of the student. Community schools show improved student and teacher attendance, increased homework completion, reduced disciplinary incidents, and better school climate. Authentic family and student engagement improves the school climate, family self-efficacy, and school success. When these strategies are woven together into a school health initiative, we can reduce the profound and persistent health and educational inequities in our communities, and create structures of opportunity that work for each and every child.

Coalition for Community Schools 2013 Research Brief

A research brief from the Coalition for Community Schools summarizing community school results across the nation.

School-Based Health Centers: Proven Results

A brief from the California School-Based Health Alliance.