This is an excerpt from Promoting Health and Academic Success by David A. Birch & Donna M. Videto.
ASCD, in collaboration with CDC, moved forward in 2013 to develop a new model that builds on both the Whole Child Initiative and the original eight-component CSH approach. The development of the new model, titled Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC), involved a consultation group that developed the documents and frameworks related to the new model and a review group that periodically reviewed and provided feedback to the work of the consultation group. Members of both groups were selected because of their role as leaders in both education and health. The new WSCC model was introduced at two national conferences, the ASCD conference in Los Angeles in March 2014 and the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) conference in Baltimore, also in March 2014. WSCC incorporates and builds on CSH and the ASCD Whole Child Initiative (ASCD, 2014).
WSCC is designed to promote alignment, integration, and collaboration between education and health and is intended to enhance health outcomes and academic success. Support and engagement of the whole community should be an important aspect of the implementation of WSCC (ASCD, 2014).
An important aspect of the new model is the expansion from 8 to 10 components. One original component, healthy and safe school environment, has been expanded to two separate components, physical environment and social and emotional climate. Another original component, family and community involvement, has been expanded to two components, community involvement and family engagement (see figure 1.1) (ASCD, 2014). The evolution of the school health models is presented in figure 1.2.
Evolution of components in school health models.
Following are brief descriptions of all 10 WSCC components:
- Health education:Health education provides students with opportunities to acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary for making health-promoting decisions, achieving health literacy, adopting health-enhancing behaviors, and promoting the health of others. Health education should be provided sequentially from pre-K through grade 12. Health education curricula should address important health topic areas through instruction based on the National Health Education Standards (NHES) (CDC, 2013).
- Physical education and physical activity: Physical education is a school-based instructional opportunity for students to gain the necessary skills and knowledge for lifelong participation in physical activity. Physical education is characterized by a planned, sequential K through 12 curriculum that assists students in achieving the national standards for K through 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 (CDC, 2013).
- Health services:These services are designed to ensure access or referral to primary health care services; 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 (CDC, 2013).
- Nutrition environment and services: Schools should provide access to a variety of nutritious and appealing meals that accommodate the health and nutrition needs of all students. School nutrition programs should reflect U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and other criteria to achieve nutrition integrity. The school nutrition services should offer students a learning laboratory for classroom nutrition and health education and serve as a resource for linkages with nutrition-related community services (CDC, 2013).
- Counseling, psychological, and social services: These services are provided to improve students’ mental, emotional, and social health and include individual and group assessments, interventions, and referrals. Organizational assessment and consultation skills of counselors and psychologists should contribute not only to the health of students but also to the health of the school environment (CDC, 2013).
- Physical environment: The physical environment of the school includes buildings, school grounds, playground equipment, and athletic fields. The physical environment within the school includes building design, adequate space, cleanliness, noise level, heating and cooling, ventilation, and restrooms. These interior and exterior areas should be clean; safe; free from environmental hazards, tobacco, drugs, weapons, and violence; and appropriately secure from unauthorized access (Allensworth, Lawson, Nicholson, & Wyche, 1997; ASCD, 2014).
- Social and emotional climate:The social and emotional climate should provide a supportive culture conducive to enabling students, families, and staff members to feel safe, secure, accepted, and valued. Important factors in the social and emotional climate of a school include an attractive, comfortable physical environment; appreciation and respect for individual differences and cultural diversity; value placed on equity and social justice; high expectations and supportive actions for learning; size and structure of classes and organizations; and a general sense of comfort and safety (Allensworth, Lawson, Nicholson, & Wyche, 1997).
- Health promotion for staff: Schools can provide opportunities for school staff members to improve their health status through activities such as health assessments, health education, and health-related fitness activities. These opportunities should encourage staff members to pursue a healthy lifestyle that contributes to their improved health status, improved morale, and a greater personal commitment to the school’s overall coordinated health approach (CDC, 2013).
- Family engagement:Epstein et al. (2009) identified six types of involvement necessary for successful school and family partnerships: (1) providing parenting support, (2) communicating with parents, (3) providing diverse volunteer opportunities, (4) supporting at-home learning, (5) encouraging parents to engage in decision-making opportunities in schools, and (6) collaborating with the community. Engaging family members often involves overcoming challenges such as family time conflicts, lack of transportation to school, and lack of comfort among family members in engaging in school activities. In addition, teachers and school staff may lack adequate time and resources to work with families.
- Community involvement:Meaningful community involvement in the WSCC approach is characterized by systematic collaboration among individuals and organizations within the school community. This systematic collaboration involves the engagement of individuals and organizations representing various segments of the community in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of programs, structures, and systems designed to create and sustain WSCC. The collaboration also involves the sharing of both community and school resources.
An Early Step Forward in Promoting WSCC at the Local Level
Upon the March 2014 unveiling of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model, a local school district in upstate New York introduced WSCC to the district’s faculty and administration across their rural school district. A faculty member from a local college was asked to introduce the new WSCC model and then work with the district health and wellness coordinator to oversee 25 breakout sessions focused on the theme of incorporating wellness into learning. One goal for the day was to provide participants with knowledge and skills to adjust the physical, social, and emotional climate in their classrooms to improve the learning environment for each student. In an attempt to achieve the workshop goal, the WSCC model was introduced and compared with the CSH model. The ASCD video that provides an overview of the WSCC model was shown to the audience. Following the video a discussion was held on how a collaborative approach can have a positive effect on health and learning in the school district.
At the conclusion of the opening session, breakout sessions with small groups were held. An example of a breakout session was one titled "Healthy and Wise: Preparing Students for the World Beyond Formal Schooling." In this session, the facilitator went into detail about the collaborative WSCC approach while putting a strong focus on the ASCD Whole Child concept. The goal of this breakout session was to challenge the participants to produce a comprehensive health and academic plan in which the faculty and staff become leaders in the quest to reinvent, refocus, and recharge the health and academic status of the school district.
At the conclusion of the workshop it was decided to begin an initiative to implement the WSCC approach in the school district. The name of the first effort is "Optimize the Year with Healthy Habits: Incredible You, Incredible Year." In this effort the wellness committee will begin by addressing the wellness of the faculty and staff for the upcoming school year as a way to develop health and wellness leaders for the work to follow.
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