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.
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.
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 September 2023!
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.