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APPLE Schools

Innovative health promotion initiative that improves the lives of 30,000+ students yearly in Canada.

APPLE Schools is a proven, school-based health promotion project that gives students positive experiences that prepare them for the challenges of the future. Students in APPLE schools lead the creation of a healthy school environment where they are happier and achieve better learning outcomes through making healthy lifelong choices around movement, mindfulness, and food.

HundrED 2024
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Overview

Web presence

2007

Established

100K

Children

1

Countries
Target group
Students
Updated
September 2023
Being an APPLE school is part of our culture and foundation – we don’t have to work hard at it. It is a philosophy that’s integrated in all activities and dictates how we interact with students daily.

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

Troubling statistics around children’s health behaviors in Alberta inspired a philanthropist to fund a research-based health intervention. Chronic disease and obesity were drastically increasing for children and he wanted to better their future prospects. APPLE School was launched to improve these worsening trends around eating, mental health, and physical activity using an innovative approach.

How does your innovation work in practice?


APPLE Schools collaborates with underserved schools to create environments that give students a positive experience translating into healthy living. Our approach embeds healthy choices into all aspects of school life and curricular activities, creating a “just the way it’s done” culture around making healthy choices for all community members.

We collaborate with schools to define their ideal healthy goals and create an action plan, taking into account schools’ unique populations and needs, and we equip them with funds, ongoing mentorship, skills, and resources needed to centre students’ well-being. Students are at the forefront of the initiatives, selecting and leading activities while engaging their peers. Technologies and methods differ in each community as schools choose what is best suited for their action plan.

We work with the University of Alberta, and University of Toronto to ensure our approach is guided by scientific research, so we know that we impact health behaviours.

How has it been spreading?

APPLE Schools has celebrated many achievements in the last two years. First, we successfully pivoted our approach to supporting school wellness needs throughout the pandemic. Teachers stated that we made it easy to prioritize health in virtual classrooms while they navigated teaching challenges.

Second, we developed a new and more accessible implementation model called APPLE ally schools, and we already launched our project in 17 of them.
APPLE Schools also launched new digital resources to increase access to our project, including digital learning modules on building a healthy school, and best-practice resources to apply in alternative learning environments.

APPLE Schools’ goal was to reach 100 schools by 2025, however, we will likely reach and celebrate that goal in fall of 2023!

If I want to try it, what should I do?

APPLE Schools expands its support to new schools only when the budget becomes available. Then we connect with school districts to choose underserved schools, and approach the schools to gauge their interest in committing to joining the project.

We are unable to take on all interested schools at this time. However, we offer our best-practice resources for free on www.appleschools.ca.

Impact & scalability

HundrED Academy Reviews
The potential for impact with APPLE schools is important and strong. Students need access to movement and healthy food choices, and could use coaching around how to engage with these things more effectively.
It's easy to implement and highly scalable, as it involves building healthy practices on a day-to-day basis with available resources. The data shows how powerful this innovation can be and impacts millions of lives.
- Academy member
Academy review results
High Impact
Low Scalability
High Impact
High Scalability
Low Impact
Low Scalability
Low Impact
High Scalability
Read more about our selection process

Media

An ad for APPLE Schools' latest resource: the digital learning modules for becoming a healthy school community.
A senior's aquafit class in Lac La Biche, Alberta, adopted APPLE's taste tests to enjoy new foods and kick off Nutrition Month.
"Implementing CSH Through APPLE Schools" was written by a staff member at an APPLE school who described the transformative healthy impact of the project on her community.
APPLE Schools Helps Kids be Healthier for Life
The University of Alberta highlights APPLE Schools' 15 years of tremendous impact on student health across Canada. The article celebrate some key figures involved in our success, particularly around the research that makes APPLE Schools a one-of-a-kind game changer in the health promotion world!  Read the article here.
Mental health is a daily practice
Mental health is just one of many priorities in APPLE school communities. Students learn about mindfulness, feelings, and kindness from a very early age because teachers take the time to practice these habits regularly as a class. 
Learning about the land in northern communities
Students at Chief Jimmy Bruneau School in Edzo, Northwest Territories enjoyed land camp. Students got to fish, set up a teepee, prep a fire and ate caribou ribs, fresh white fish, and tea. Elder Chris from the community joined the students to assist them and offer wisdom along the way!
Many APPLE schools participated in healthy taste tests, where students learn about a new healthy snack food, and give it a try. The more variety of foods that children try, the more likely they will eat them regularly!
Students pose in front of a bulletin board from APPLE Schools' Hygiene SUPER Heroes campaign, aimed at promoting COVID safety in a fun an interactive way. 
Want to build a healthy school? Just ask the experts
Thanks to HundrED for highlighting APPLE Schools as part of a series promoting healthy habits to students for World Health Day. We submitted an article touting the secret behind APPLE Schools' success – school communities!
Edmonton-based Apple Schools selected for LEAP’s Healthy Futures Accelerator
Edmonton’s APPLE Schools is one of three Alberta organizations selected for LEAP’s Healthy Futures Accelerator. With support from LEAP, APPLE Schools has a goal of reaching 62,000 student over the next five years. Read full article.
Risk of ADHD diagnosis lower in children who follow healthy lifestyle recommendations, study shows
A healthy lifestyle may help prevent the development and severity of ADHD in children and youth. The study, conducted by the School of Public Health, University of Alberta, highlights the impactful, far-reaching effects of the work that APPLE schools do to ensure healthy behaviours in students.
Healthy habits lead to healthier lives for youth
Check out how APPLE Schools supports findings in new research that links childhood health to adolescent mental health. Page 20.
School-focused health promotion project gets international recognition
APPLE Schools, a school-focused health promotion project, has been selected as one of the world’s top 100 most innovative and inspiring education projects of 2020 by HundrED, whose goal is to improve education through pedagogically-sound education initiatives. READ FULL ARTICLE.
8 Essential Elements That Help Transform Kids’ Health & Well-being
APPLE Schools has developed a pretty solid model to ensure improvements to students’ long-term physical activity, healthy eating, and mental health habits. Here are the 8 essential elements to consider when building a healthy school community! READ FULL ARTICLE.
APPLE schools love to celebrate! And they do so with a fun, healthy lens. This student has decorated her own healthy treat jack-o-lantern as part of a Halloween classroom celebration. 
One APPLE school had a day full of traditional activities, which included some young talented dancers from the school and an Indigenous elder sharing stories.
APPLE’s health champions and facilitators drive some incredible changes in their communities. Like Les at St. Kateri Bison in Fort McMurray, Alberta, who keeps wellness a priority. 
Students take a moment to practice mindfulness.
APPLE schools post healthy messages in hallways as part of their monthly campaigns. This campaign focused on the power of a positive attitude.
Many APPLE schools grow their own greens and veggies year-round. Students take care of the gardens, and the harvest gets used for healthy lunches.
This girl is participating in indoor Indigenous Arctic Winter Games, learning new activities and physical literacy.

Implementation steps

Building an APPLE School

Download this PDF to get an understanding of how APPLE Schools is able to successfully implement a healthy school culture. It is meant to guide your school in developing a unique, personalized model for implementing the comprehensive school health approach to improve the lives of your students, staff, and families.

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