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The toolkit was developed to help schools implement the Healthy Schools approach and has been utilized by the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board. It provides a step-by-step guide to creating a healthier school. It contains many letters and templates that Healthy School Committees can use in their Healthy Schools work. Healthy School Committees may choose to use all or any of the tools and resources to support their work.

Sample Action Plan Activities for School Health Topics

Healthy Schools Action Plans can be used by Healthy School Committees to guide the development, implementation and evaluation of a school community action plan.

Action plans should be created and completed in consultation with school community stakeholders to ensure that the school’s specific needs, assets and vision are reflected. Effective plans include action in each of the Five Foundations for a Healthy School: Curriculum, Teaching and Learning; School and Classroom Leadership; Student Engagement; Social & Physical Environments; Home, School and Community Partnerships. The sections below contain sample action plan activities specific to health topics, which Healthy School Committees can adapt to their unique action plans.

 

Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

  • Identify ways to connect mental health promotion topics (e.g., stress, anxiety, resiliency) in the classroom to other subject areas (e.g. physical activity, nutrition, literature, math, media literacy).
  • Integrate adaptive strategies into classroom lessons (e.g., resiliency building, positive self-talk, optimism, self-care, growth mindset, benefits of getting involved in a school club or committee, safer use of devices/media/gaming.)
  • Consider strategies to address sensitive topics that may arise when teaching (e.g., family conflict, financial stress, familial mental illness, access to healthy food, bullying/cyberbullying)
  • Collaborate with School Support Services (e.g. School Board Mental Health Leads, Social Worker, Guidance, Child & Youth Worker) to provide in-services to staff about mental health promotion, strategies to support students, when to be concerned, and referral processes.
  • Promote opportunities for staff to increase knowledge about mental health
  • Refer to mental health resources and curriculum supports for educators such as:
  • Refer school staff to reference guides in addition to existing school resources:

School and Classroom Leadership

  • Conduct survey on mental health needs/issues in collaboration with School Board Mental Health Leads and/or School Support Services Workers.
  • Consider forming a School Mental Health Committee (teachers, students, parents) to help plan mental health-related activities throughout the school year.
  • Offer opportunities for stress management/mental wellness promotion (e.g. walk/run clubs, yoga, meditation).
  • Establish a youth leadership group focused on planning mental health activities throughout the school.
  • Provide workshops on time management and stress reduction during exam time.
  • Engage students in discussions about healthy relationships and inclusion with the objective of increasing a sense of belonging and decrease isolation in the school environment.
  • Train student leaders in teaching younger students deep breathing techniques. See resources from organizations such as:

Student Engagement

  • Encourage student leaders to identify mental health priorities in the student population; support their ideas and efforts to creatively address these priorities.
  • Participate in School Board student leadership initiatives such as “Stop the Stigma” and “Feeder Leader”.
  • Encourage students to identify stressful time periods and to develop/share stress reduction strategies with their peers
  • Support students in creating PA announcements to give tips on stress management strategies such as mindfulness, physical activity, and nutrition.
  • Establish a diversity club providing students with an opportunity to discuss ways to make all students feel welcome.
  • Assist students to identify resources, guest speakers and funding to support school initiatives.
  • Engage students in planning potential mindfulness school wide events/daily school activities.
  • Involve a variety of student clubs to take part in an assembly focused on mental health (e.g. dance, music, spoken word, literature, art, drama).
  • Have a “Club Fair” to expose students to the various opportunities for engagement and sense of belonging.

Social and Physical Environments

  • Greet students by name as they enter school or their classroom.
  • Consider healthy snack/meal programs.
  • Encourage art classes to develop posters on stress reduction, healthy eating, sleep, physical activity, and post them during exam time.
  • Involve students in creating peaceful and positive spaces to relax or meditate (“Chill Zones”).
  • Highlight mental wellness resources in school library.
  • Create private, anonymous spaces where students can safely report incidents.
  • Host a “Mental Health Day” event with interactive “display stations” (e.g., stress, anxiety, nutrition, substance misuse prevention, physical activity etc.).
  • Host a social media free day/activity.
  • Encourage physical activity (e.g. bike racks, sign-out equipment, non-traditional activities such as Frisbee golf and drumming)

Home, School and Community Partnerships

Curriculum, Teaching & Learning

School & Classroom Leadership

Student Engagement

  • Recruit student/staff “Champion(s)” to lead in promotional efforts for infectious disease prevention throughout year to:
    • Engage students/staff
    • Recognize/celebrate efforts
    • Help monitor progress
  • Have student Champions develop/read PA announcements promoting infection prevention awareness including: handwashing, respiratory etiquette, mask friendly behaviour, staying up to date on immunizations (i.e. School Immunizations, COVID-19, etc.), screening for symptoms, staying home when sick.
  • Engage peer leaders to plan, implement and lead fun and interactive activities related to preventing infections.
  • Ideas for Discussion with Students:
    • What are some measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases?
    • What are examples of symptoms we can self-monitor for to protect our family, friends and the school community?
    • What is the proper way to sanitize hands / wash hands / cover a cough?
    • What are the ways that infections can spread?

Social & Physical Environments

Home, School & Community Partnerships

Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

  • Organize professional development opportunities for staff to help them deliver food and nutrition education in the classroom.

School and Classroom Leadership

  • Encourage staff to reflect on how their own attitudes and beliefs around healthy eating and body image, influence their interactions with students.
  • Implement and monitor the Ontario School Food and Beverage Policy for food and beverages sold at school.
  • Develop and apply nutrition guidelines for areas not covered by the Ontario School Food and Beverage Policy such as:
    • Non-food student rewards
    • Healthy food or non-food fundraising
    • Special food days
    • Healthy refreshments for classroom celebrations and school events
    • Staff meetings
    • Access to drinking water in class

Note: guidelines should not apply to food brought from home.

Student Engagement

  • Involve students in planning and leading fun and interactive activities related to food and nutrition with their peers, such as a school-wide healthy eating campaign/challenge.
  • When possible, obtain students’ input on food and beverages served and sold at school.

Social and Physical Environments

  • Schedule adequate time for lunch and snacks, and provide a safe and pleasant eating area for students and staff.
  • Provide access to drinking water and encourage students to bring reusable bottles. This activity can also be included as part of an EcoSchool initiative.
  • Make connections between the Student Nutrition Programs and the curriculum and other nutrition initiatives at school/in the classroom.
  • Ensure food and beverages sold at school comply with the Ontario School Food and Beverage Policy.
  • Provide information to staff and students on a variety of healthy eating topics through PA announcements or billboards.

Home, School and Community Partnerships

  • Offer nutrition/healthy eating workshops for parents.
  • Survey parents for input on food and beverages served and sold at school.
  • Include healthy eating education and skill-building activities at family-focused school events such as “Curriculum Night” and “Family Fit Night.”
  • Attach resources on a variety of healthy eating topics to the school newsletter– consult your public health nurse for resources.
  • Promote free/low cost healthy eating activities, resources and/or workshops for parents in the community.
  • Partner with community organizations or farmers who may help make free/low cost food or food-related activities available to families. Consult your public health nurse for ideas on what is available in the city/your neighbourhood.

Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

School and Classroom Leadership

  • Consider forming a Health Action Team or Wellness Committee to recruit student leaders in physical activity programming.
  • Assign a Daily Physical Activity (DPA) student leader to each classroom.
  • Utilize OPHEA’s Healthy Schools Certification which provides a peer leadership process for addressing health topics in classrooms and schools.

Student Engagement

Social and Physical Environments

  • Make recommendation to school administration to effectively integrate healthy school policies and programs such as Daily Physical Activity (PPM 138) into the school improvement plan.
  • Establish an inclusive environment where everyone feels safe to participate in physical activities (e.g. stagger activity schedules, modify games to students’ abilities, and consider accessibility to equipment).
  • Provide students with sports and activity equipment to use before and after school as well as during recess.
  • Display posters that highlight the importance of safety during physical activity.
  • Create a plan to promote physical activity events throughout the school year such as:
  • Create/maintain an environment that encourages physical activity and active transportation, such as painting hopscotch lines, installing bike racks, soccer and basketball nets, and mapping safer cycling and walking routes for students.

Home, School and Community Partnerships

  • Recruit parents and community partners (e.g. local library, Parks, Forestry & Recreation, agencies and grocery stores) to join the Health Action Team/Wellness Committee.
  • Share resources with parents through school newsletter, emails, School Council meetings, and other opportunities where parents can be engaged.
  • Collaborate with neighboring schools when planning physical activity events, initiatives, and challenges.
  • Partner with community agencies, parents, student groups, local businesses and politicians to organize an event/campaign to promote physical activity or active transportation (g. Family Fit Night, Walking School Bus, Walk a Block).
  • Explore funding/grant opportunities to support health initiatives. Ask your public health nurse for resources.

Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

School and Classroom Leadership

Student Engagement

  • Create and maintain a school’s Genders & Sexualities Alliances group for 2SLGBTQIA+ and allied students (with support from school staff) to create awareness on 2SLGBTQIA+ issues and foster a positive environment.
  • Have school’s student/youth leadership group promote school-wide student engagement activities on sexual health, consent, healthy relationships, sexuality, sexual diversity and/or gender diversity.

Social and Physical Environments

Home, School and Community Partnerships

*Some resources (e.g. lesson plans) need a subscription to be accessible. School staff can create a free account to get the subscription to access these resources.

Curriculum, Teaching & Learning

School & Classroom Leadership

  • Promote resources for use in the classroom that are specific to the needs of the students such as:
  • Include tobacco and vapour-free messages in different classes/subjects and peer leadership training.
  • Provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their understanding of the risks associated with substance use.
  • Integrate adaptive strategies (e.g., resiliency building, positive refocusing, and positive reappraisal) into lessons to help students develop coping and refusal skills.

Student Engagement

  • Recruit a staff advisor and student leaders to participate in a school health committee and/or a youth leadership group to identify and address the needs and concerns related to substance use.
  • Involve students in planning and leading fun and interactive activities related to substances and/or mental health and well-being.
  • Recruit students to participate in activities that support the Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA).
  • Link secondary school students with younger students (grade 7 & 8) through peer-led programs to develop relationship and communication skills.

Social & Physical Environments

Home, School & Community Partnerships

*Ensure you connect with your school board contacts to obtain a list of approved partnerships/speakers.

  • Consult with your public health nurse for additional support and resources.