America's #HealthiestSchools Campaign
Every Child Deserves a Healthy School
The 2017 America's #HealthiestSchools campaign is grounded in the shared belief that every child deserves a healthy school. Why? Because healthy schools are critical for kids' health and lifelong success. All children – from all disability, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, through all grades, and in urban and rural settings – benefit from regular physical activity and good nutrition. It is widely established that the school setting offers many opportunities for children and youth to achieve the recommended amount of physical activity through quality physical education, recess, classroom activity breaks, and out-of-school time (OST). There are 5.5 million children with a disability in the U.S. These children are not only at a greater risk of developing serious health conditions associated with sedentary lifestyles such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, but they also face greater environmental barriers that impede access. Thus, why we need healthy schools! Healthy schools should also be inclusive schools because inclusion in physical activity and athletics is how children learn from each other, build social skills and optimize their growth and development.
How can a healthy school be an inclusive school? Full inclusion begins with you!
Inclusion assumes that all children, regardless of ability or disability, have the right to:
• Be respected and appreciated as valuable members of the school community
• Fully participate in all school activities
• Interact with peers of all ability levels with opportunities to develop friendships and learn and respect differences
1) Adopt a basic understanding of disability. In addition to being a positive role model, various school staff will likely be involved in incorporating elements of physical activity in the school setting and interacting with students with disabilities. In order for students with disabilities to be fully included in this process, it is important to make sure that all staff has a basic understanding of disabilities. Staff training on disability awareness including person first language and communication tips is essential to making children and youth with disabilities feel included.
2) Plan for accommodations ahead of time. Planning for accommodations ahead of time will benefit the student with a disability as well as promote inclusion within the school environment by helping activities run smoothly.
3) Adapt when necessary. General adaptations consist of modifying instructions, rules, equipment, and the environment. It is important to adapt only when necessary and be creative with adaptations.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s #HealthiestSchools national campaign is inspiring and activating everyone—from school leaders to parents to community change makers—to join the movement, with Healthier Generation's 2017 National Healthy School Award winners (from Washington, D.C. and 30 states across the country) at the forefront, to create a culture of health at school for all children. Visit healthiestschools.org to sign the pledge to show your support for healthier schools for ALL kids.
For more information on creating healthy, inclusive school settings for all students, check out these resources from NCHPAD:
• Discover Inclusive School Wellness
• Discover Inclusive Physical Education
• Inclusive Brain Boosters
• Inclusive Nutrition Education
• New School Year & New to IEPs: What You Need To Know
• Additional Resources for Inclusion in Physical Activity & Youth with Disabilities