“Healthier students are better learners.” Health factors unmistakably influence the quality of life for youth as well as their ability to contribute to their community and live a productive life. (Basch, C. E., 2011, Journal of School Health).
The World Health Organization (WHO) highlights the fundamental role of schools in health promotion and states that “an effective school health program can be one of the most cost-effective investments a nation can make to simultaneously improve education and health.”1
The New Brunswick Healthy Learners in School Program (HLSP), initiated in 2000, encourages co-ordinates health promotion and disease/injury prevention activities occurring at various levels (classroom, schools, school districts, home and communities). The program uses a Comprehensive School Health Framework that recognizes that health and education are interdependent: healthy students are better learners, and better-educated individuals are healthier.
The HLSP is delivered by Public Health (PH) staff working in partnership with school districts through health committees that may include educators, parents, students, community groups and partners. Program initiatives and actions are tailored to the local school community context depending on identified needs, priorities and resources.
The mandate of HLSP is to improve, maintain and support the long-term outcomes of student health, wellness and learning achievement.
The goals of the program, based on the four pillars of the Comprehensive School Health Framework, are that the school community:
• Provides healthy, supportive and safe learning environments.
• Acquires knowledge, skills and experiences that build competencies in taking action to improve health and wellness.
• Builds partnerships and accesses services to advance school health and wellness.
• Develops and supports practices and policies that promote health and wellness.
The program includes a spectrum of activities and services that take place in schools and their surrounding communities to enable students to enhance their health and achievement, to develop to their fullest potential and to establish productive and satisfying relationships in their present and future lives.
The program is not intended to provide individual level services/care but rather uses an integrated approach to health promotion that gives students numerous opportunities to observe, learn and experience positive health attitudes and behaviours, which, in turn, have a greater impact on student health and learning and lifelong healthy habits.
1. World Health Organization – http://www.who.int/school_youth_health/en/
2. Joint Consortium on School Health - http://www.jcsh-cces.ca/index.php/school-health
3. Public Health Agency of Canada – Population Health Approach. Available from : http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/ph-sp/approach-approche/appr-eng.php#health
4. The Canadian Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
(CAHPERD). Quality School Health. Retrieved January 2005 from the CAHPERD
Web site, http://www.cahperd.ca/organizations and governments.
5. Basch, C.E. Healthier Students are better learners: high-quality, strategically planned,
and effectively coordinated school health programs must be a fundamental mission
of schools to help close the achievement gap. J. Sch Health. 2011; 81:650-662.