26 SES 12 B, School Leaders’ Health and Health Promotion Approaches in Schools and Communities
Many Canadian school jurisdictions have adopted health promotion strategies to support children and youth, using a health-promoting school (HPS) framework. Implementation across the country has been guided by different provincial and territorial policy and programme approaches (Basset-Gunter et al., 2015). Using Nova Scotia as a case, the paper presents findings from studies of health promotion strategies over the last decade taking the form of community partnerships and involving students. In the small east coast province of Nova Scotia, HPS has a rich history that began with parents, school staff and community partners coming together to create change within school environments. This evolved into a provincial initiative that aims to create healthier school communities for all children in the province (McIsaac et al., 2012). The HPS initiative is based on the needs and assets of individual school communities, and progress has varied. Investigating the impact of HPS policies and practices on children’s health behaviours through data collected before (2003) and after (2011) the implementation of the provincial HPS initiative, fewer negative trends among schools at higher levels of implementation were found (McIsaac et al., 2015), and factors were identified that influence implementation, including those that were systematic (demands on the education system, political and financial obstacles and obstructive community culture) and those that related to schools (leadership and school culture) (McIsaac et al., 2017). In addition, student engagement in HPS actions has been identified as a gap (Spencer et al., 2017). To support greater youth engagement in HPS actions, the UpLift Partnership was established in 2019. The partnership involves relevant government and community groups who work together to incorporate HPS policies and practices. To date, the UpLift model has been implemented in two regions of the province, with further expansion planned throughout 2021. Youth Engagement Coordinators have engaged students in the creation and implementation of student-involved action plans that reflect the World Health Organization’s HPS approach, including bike loan programmes, outdoor seating and salad bars. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UpLift Partnership has further prioritised partnerships with community organisations and municipalities, developed a range of HPS resources and administered a survey about child and youth wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper generates knowledge on how approaches and strategies evolve and develop over time along with current challenges, and it discusses obstacles in the implementation process and the potential of involving multiple actors in health promotion.
Basset-Gunter, R., Yesss, J., Manske, S., & Gleddie, D. (2015). Healthy school communities in Canada. Health Education Journal. https://doi.org/10.1177/0017896915570397 McIsaac, J.-L. D., Chu, Y. L., Blanchard, C., Rossiter, M. D., Williams, P. L., Raine, K. D., Kirk, S. F., & Veugelers, P. J. (2015). The impact of school policies and practices on students’ diets, physical activity levels and body weights. A province-wide practice-based evaluation. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 106(2), e43-51. https://doi.org/10.17269/cjph.106.4743 McIsaac, J.-L. D., Read, K., Veugelers, P. J., & Kirk, S. F. L. (2017). Culture matters: A case of school health promotion in Canada. Health Promotion International, 32(2), 207–217. https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/dat055 McIsaac, J.-L., Sim, S. M., Penney, T. L., Kirk, S. F., & Veugelers, P. J. (2012). School Health Promotion Policy in Nova Scotia: A Case Study. Revue PhénEPS / PHEnex Journal, 4(2). http://ojs.acadiau.ca/index.php/phenex/article/view/1460 Spencer, R., McIsaac, J., & Kirk, Sf. (2017). Food for Thought: Engaging Youth in Creative Knowledge Sharing of School Food Experiences. International Journal of Health, Wellness, and Society, 7(3). http://ijw.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.198/prod.282/m.2
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