Creating a Culture of Wellness
A comprehensive wellness policy supports a culture of wellness by addressing aspects of the broader school environment beyond minimum requirements for nutrition and physical activity.
Building a Model Wellness Policy
Partners of the San Diego Childhood Obesity Initiative (COI) can provide to help districts to strengthen their wellness policies, including offering policy language examples from the COI Policy Clearinghouse.
The COI’s Policy Clearinghouse includes the following:
- Wellness policies from all school districts in San Diego County
- Examples of policy language on 23 topics
- Live Well Schools Model Wellness Policy
- COI Policy Clearinghouse
- Live Well Schools Model Wellness Policy 2023
- Topics to Include in Wellness Policy
Live Well Schools Policy Research
The WellSAT Tool
The WellSAT 3.0, developed by the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health, is a tool used across the United States to rate 67 policy components to produce a report scoring comprehensiveness and language strength, each on a scale of 0 to 100 points.
Live Well Schools created the table below to show the San Diego County WellSAT 3.0 score averages by year based on overall comprehensiveness and language strength. As can be observed:
- There was a large increase in overall comprehensiveness and language strength from 2015 to 2019. This large increase can be partly explained by the fact that 22 school districts updated their wellness policies during that period.
- From 2019 to current, a much smaller number of districts updated their policies which is reflected in the minor increase in averages from 2019 to present day.
The figure below graphically displays the trends observed among San Diego County’s 42 school district wellness policies as they relate to overall comprehensiveness and language strength. Encouragingly, County averages for overall comprehensiveness and language strength continue to steadily improve over time.
Live Well Schools’ Healthy Schools Infographic combines recent data and trends to continue the discussion about how strong wellness policies supported by funding investments in student physical and mental health can lead to better attendance.
To learn more about your district-specific data please email LiveWellEducation@sdcounty.ca.gov.
Best Practices for Effective Policy Implementation
Effective implementation of a district’s wellness policy depends on a commitment to communicate and engage the entire school community in supporting healthy school environments.
- Designate a district wellness coordinator who reports to a higher-level district administrator, such as the Director of Student Support Services or an Assistant Superintendent. The wellness coordinator should be a full-time dedicated staff position, if possible.
- Form a diverse wellness committee that includes district, school, and community stakeholders, including representatives from school-based preschool and afterschool programs.
- The wellness committee should meet frequently throughout the school year, and report annually to the school board on progress in meeting wellness policy goals.
- Designate a representative from each school site to act as a site wellness coordinator.
- Promote parent involvement with the wellness committee, on district and school websites and social media.
- Invest in wellness in the district budget, called the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP).
Many San Diego superintendents have stressed that systems for monitoring policy adherence are a key component of a strong wellness program. A strong and comprehensive policy sitting on a shelf will have little impact on student health; it must be communicated and implemented in each school.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act requires districts to develop systems for measuring progress in meeting the goals of the wellness policy and perform a triennial assessment. HHSA staff and other partners that participate on district wellness committees can help support district staff to meet this requirement.
No-cost online tools to measure progress in meeting the goals of Local School Wellness Policies
- Assess progress in meeting goals in six areas with the Healthy Schools tool from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
- Assess progress in meeting goals in nine areas based on the CDC's School Health Index with Action for Healthy Kids.