Step 1: Gather Your TeamPrint Page
School health teams come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and names (such as school health councils or wellness committees). But they all have a common goal: to rally forces to make schools healthier places for students. Research shows that schools with a wellness team that meets at least once per year have more students at a healthy weight. And having an active wellness team is associated with more healthy nutrition habits, such as students eating fewer sugary foods.
Ready to start one?
We recommend your school health team have between three and ten members, representative of all areas of your school. Together, you’ll identify primary health concerns, lead projects that promote healthy habits, raise funds, celebrate successful health initiatives, and develop resources to help others replicate your efforts.
Building representative school health teams helps to ensure your team is supporting the Whole Child. Think outside the box – when looking at your school health team or committee consider using the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model as your template. Check out this tip sheet for building representative school health teams for ideas on how to expand upon yours.
Before getting started, see where you might want to focus your attention this year by taking the 3-minute School Health Survey.
Building and Leading Successful School Health Teams
- Determine if you can expand on an existing wellness-oriented group or develop a plan to start your own. See if health and wellness can be added to an existing group, such as the PTA/PTO or school improvement team. If there isn’t an existing health team, start your own. Identify more champions to join you, and build on their energy, passion and expertise.
- Develop an “elevator pitch.” In two minutes (or two sentences) or less, be able to describe why you want to create a health team, what types of activities the team will undertake, and what kind of time commitment will be necessary.
- Get the principal’s approval. A supportive principal or assistant principal is essential to your efforts. A principal who participates on the team is ideal.
- Invite school staff, parents, students and community members to join the team. Your team should be creative, committed, passionate, and determined to face challenges head on. The optimal team consists of at least five individuals, including a parent and a school administrator. Inspire them to participate by making the case for school wellness and creating a sense of urgency about the state of children’s health and its link to student achievement. Use local statistics, personal stories and examples from your own school to make your case.
- Recruit stakeholders who represent the diversity of your community and have a deep understanding of the culture, norms and dynamics of your community.
- Remember that not everyone needs to be a leader — supporters are just as important to your team’s success.
- Invite student input and participation. Consider creating more than one student health team member position to have consistent student representation.
- Develop a vision. At first your meeting, have your team write a vision statement that defines what your school will look like if you achieve all of your goals. From there, create a team charter – a document that outlines your goals, project ideas and details for how to begin implementing. Cast the net wide and brainstorm a running list of ideas. As you begin to assess your school (step 2 of Game On), you can then use those results to refine your list and identify priorities.
- Sample: “ABC Elementary students will learn how to make healthy choices, be physically active and nurture their social emotional health throughout the school day so they are better prepared to learn and begin developing skills and behaviors for a happy, healthy life.”
- Understand your school wellness policy. Take time to review the existing school wellness policy to familiarize your team with requirements and goals. Read this case study to learn how Game On can be used to implement district wellness policies.
- Conduct successful meetings. Use our Guide to Successful School Health Team Meetings to set up meetings in a way that best supports your team. Meet at least four times per school year but aim for a frequency that fully supports your project or plans.
Get Families on Board
Do you want parents or family members on your wellness team? Help them dip their toes into the school health pool with resources and ideas from Parents for Healthy Kids.