Healthy Communities

Components of WSCC

Components of Whole School, Whole Community, and Whole Child (WSCC)

Health Education 

Formal, structured health education consists of any combination of planned learning experiences that provide the opportunity to acquire information and the skills students need to make quality health decisions. When provided by qualified, trained teachers, health education helps students acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need for making health-promoting decisions, achieving health literacy, adopting health-enhancing behaviors, and promoting the health of others. Comprehensive school health education includes curricula and instruction for students in pre-K through grade 12 that address a variety of topics such as alcohol and other drug use and abuse, healthy eating/nutrition, mental and emotional health, personal health and wellness, physical activity, safety and injury prevention, sexual health, tobacco use, and violence prevention. Health education curricula and instruction should address the National Health Education Standards (NHES) and incorporate the characteristics of an effective health education curriculum.

Health education, based on an assessment of student health needs and planned in collaboration with the community, ensures reinforcement of health messages that are relevant for students and meet community needs. Students might also acquire health information through education that occurs as part of a patient visit with a school nurse, through posters or public service announcements, or through conversations with family and peers.

 
Nutrition Environment and Services

The school nutrition environment provides students with opportunities to learn about and practice healthy eating through available foods and beverages, nutrition education, and messages about food in the cafeteria and throughout the school campus. Students may have access to foods and beverages in a variety of venues at school including the cafeteria, vending machines, grab ‘n’ go kiosks, schools stores, concession stands, classroom rewards, classroom parties, school celebrations, and fundraisers.

School nutrition services provide meals that meet federal nutrition standards for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, accommodate the health and nutrition needs of all students, and help ensure that foods and beverages sold outside of the school meal programs (i.e., competitive foods) meet Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards. School nutrition professionals should meet minimum education requirements and receive annual professional development and training to ensure that they have the knowledge and skills to provide these services. All individuals in the school community support a healthy school nutrition environment by marketing and promoting healthier foods and beverages, encouraging participation in the school meal programs, role-modeling healthy eating behaviors, and ensuring that students have access to free drinking water throughout the school day.

Healthy eating has been linked in studies to improved learning outcomes and helps ensure that students are able to reach their potential.

 
Employee Wellness

Schools are not only places of learning, but they are also worksites. Fostering school employees’ physical and mental health protects school staff, and by doing so, helps to support students’ health and academic success. Healthy school employees—including teachers, administrators, bus drivers, cafeteria and custodial staff, and contractors—are more productive and less likely to be absent. They serve as powerful role models for students and may increase their attention to students’ health. Schools can create work environments that support healthy eating, adopt active lifestyles, be tobacco free, manage stress, and avoid injury and exposure to hazards (e.g., mold, asbestos). A comprehensive school employee wellness approach is a coordinated set of programs, policies, benefits, and environmental supports designed to address multiple risk factors (e.g., lack of physical activity, tobacco use) and health conditions (e.g., diabetes, depression) to meet the health and safety needs of all employees. Partnerships between school districts and their health insurance providers can help offer resources, including personalized health assessments and flu vaccinations. Employee wellness programs and healthy work environments can improve a district’s bottom line by decreasing employee health insurance premiums, reducing employee turnover, and cutting costs of substitutes.

School Wellness Guide: A Guide for Protecting the Assets of Our Nation's Schools is a comprehensive guide that provides information, practical tools and resources for school employee wellness programs.

 

Social and Emotional School Climate

Social and Emotional School Climate refers to the psychosocial aspects of students’ educational experience that influence their social and emotional development. The social and emotional climate of a school can impact student engagement in school activities; relationships with other students, staff, family, and community; and academic performance. A positive social and emotional school climate is conducive to effective teaching and learning. Such climates promote health, growth, and development by providing a safe and supportive learning environment.

 

Physical Environment

A healthy and safe school environment includes the physical and aesthetic surroundings and the psychosocial climate and culture of the school. Factors that influence the physical environment include the school building and the area surrounding it, any biological or chemical agents that are detrimental to health, and physical conditions such as temperature, noise, and lighting. The psychosocial environment includes the physical, emotional, and social conditions that affect the well-being of students and staff.

 

Health Services

School health services intervene with actual and potential health problems, including providing first aid, emergency care and assessment and planning for the management of chronic conditions (such as asthma or diabetes). In addition, wellness promotion, preventive services and staff, student and parent education complement the provision of care coordination services. These services are also designed to ensure access and/or referrals to the medical home or private healthcare provider. Health services connect school staff, students, families, community and healthcare providers to promote the health care of students and a healthy and safe school environment. School health services actively collaborate with school and community support services to increase the ability of students and families to adapt to health and social stressors, such as chronic health conditions or social and economic barriers to health, and to be able to manage these stressors and advocate for their own health and learning needs. Qualified professionals such as school nurses, nurse practitioners, dentists, health educators, physicians, physician assistants and allied health personnel provide these services.

By promoting health in all facets, the state of Arkansas hopes to diminish chronic diseases, eliminate drug and alcohol abuse, address mental health issues, inspire a positive self-image, and teach students good healthcare habits as they grow from adolescence to young adulthood. The Arkansas Department of Health, along with its other partners, wish to enable students and the community to become informed about their health and teach them to be proactive in disease prevention. 

These services are designed to ensure access or referral to primary health care services or both, foster appropriate use of primary health care services, prevent and control communicable disease and other health problems, provide emergency care for illness or injury, promote and provide optimum sanitary conditions for a safe school facility and school environment, and provide educational and counseling opportunities for promoting and maintaining individual, family, and community health. Qualified professionals such as physicians, nurses, dentists, health educators, and other allied health personnel provide these services. In many schools the School-Based Health Centers have been instrumental in helping students, the school faculty, the students family, and the community with mental and physical health needs.

 

Counseling, Psychological, and Social Services

These prevention and intervention services support the mental, behavioral, and social-emotional health of students and promote success in the learning process. Services include psychological, psychoeducational, and psychosocial assessments; direct and indirect interventions to address psychological, academic, and social barriers to learning, such as individual or group counseling and consultation; and referrals to school and community support services as needed. Additionally, systems-level assessment, prevention, intervention, and program design by school-employed mental health professionals contribute to the mental and behavioral health of students as well as to the health of the school environment. These can be done through resource identification and needs assessments, school-community-family collaboration, and ongoing participation in school safety and crisis response efforts. Additionally, school-employed professionals can provide skilled consultation with other school staff and community resources and community providers. School-employed mental health professionals ensure that services provided in school reinforce learning and help to align interventions provided by community providers with the school environment. Professionals such as certified school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers provide these services.

 

Community Involvement

Community groups, organizations, and local businesses create partnerships with schools, share resources, and volunteer to support student learning, development, and health-related activities. The school, its students, and their families benefit when leaders and staff at the district or school solicits and coordinates information, resources, and services available from community-based organizations, businesses, cultural and civic organizations, social service agencies, faith-based organizations, health clinics, colleges and universities, and other community groups. Schools, students, and their families can contribute to the community through service-learning opportunities and by sharing school facilities with community members (e.g., school-based community health centers and fitness facilities).

 

Family Engagement

Families and school staff work together to support and improve the learning, development, and health of students. Family engagement with schools is a shared responsibility of both school staff and families. School staff are committed to making families feel welcomed, engaging families in a variety of meaningful ways, and sustaining family engagement. Families are committed to actively supporting their child’s learning and development. This relationship between school staff and families cuts across and reinforces student health and learning in multiple settings—at home, in school, in out-of-school programs, and in the community. Family engagement should be continuous across a child’s life and requires an ongoing commitment as children mature into young adulthood.

 

Physical Education and Physical Activity

Physical education is a school-based instructional opportunity for students to gain the necessary skills and knowledge for lifelong healthy habits. Physical education is characterized by a planned, sequential K-12 curriculum that provides cognitive content and learning experiences in a variety of activity areas. Quality physical education programs assist students in achieving the national standards for K-12 physical education. 

The outcome of a quality physical education program is a physically educated person who has the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. Arkansas requires that all physical education teachers be qualified and trained professionals so as to properly teach healthy exercise habits to the students. A good resource for physical education is the Arkansas Department of Education, which provides curriculums and links for parents, students, and teachers alike to many helpful sites and programs.

There have been numerous acts and standards created by the state of Arkansas in order to stimulate health and physical wellbeing in schools.  The goal of this is to ensure healthy habits in the students and thus leading to a healthy community. One of the most recent standards updated in 2016 is the Arkansas Department of Education Rules Governing Nutrition and Physical Activity Standards and Body Mass Index for Age Assessment Protocols on Arkansas Public Schools. These standards are founded upon past physical education and health acts, utilize the Body Mass Index as a data gathering resource, and provide explicit information pertaining to healthy eating and exercise.

Public Health Accrediation Board
Arkansas Department of Health
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4815 W. Markham, Little Rock, AR 72205-3867 | 1-800-462-0599