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Innovative health promotion initiative that improves the lives of 21,000+ students yearly in Canada.

APPLE Schools

APPLE Schools works with vulnerable school communities to change students' healthy eating, physical activity, and mental health habits to improve their quality of life. The initiatives are engaging and excite students to move more, eat better, and be more mindful. While school staff and parents guide the students, the project's success ultimately relies on student leaders taking charge.
Jenny Adams, School Health Champion, Timberlea Public School
"APPLE provides us with the foundations for goal setting, and helps us go the extra step to support comprehensive school health. With APPLE's support, we can better look at how to improve what we do."

Jenny Adams, School Health Champion, Timberlea Public School

Overview

HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED 2020

Key figures

Innovation Overview

STUDENTS
Target Group
100 000
Children/Users
1
Country
2007
Established
Not-for-profit
Organisation
1 722
Views
Updated on August 5th, 2021
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about the innovation

APPLE Schools makes the healthy choice the easy choice

APPLE Schools works with vulnerable school communities to integrate healthy initiatives into the day-to-day of school activities in a way that avoids giving already busy teachers more work. Its approach aims to prevent chronic diseases so they target children at an early stage in life to support lifelong healthy habits. The project shifts schools' culture around health and wellness, making the healthy choice the easy choice for everyone. 

APPLE Schools supports each school in developing a unique action plan each year that outlines its path toward a sustainable and healthy community, and they help to implement it.

When COVID-19 hit, APPLE Schools staff immediately reached out to schools to learn about the type of support they required during the transition to virtual learning. They verified their need for mentorship, and most requested resources to support school staff, students, and their families to stay healthy; mental health was identified as particularly important. APPLE staff  developed and shared tailored easy-to-implement wellness resources to ensure health remained a priority while school communities were faced with challenges. 

APPLE Schools also hosted upbeat virtual professional development events for school health champions and facilitators to ensure that they feel equipped with resources and knowledge to keep students healthy and motivated during this challenging time. Since the events were now accessible to all, APPLE Schools saw a better turn out than ever before! During the virtual events, APPLE staff engaged attendees in mental health and physical activity initiatives that could be easily implemented in the classroom while respecting distancing protocols. They walked away feeling confident and with ample practical ideas to implement wellness activities. 

"It’s just so great to see that during a pandemic we are finding ways to make health and wellness a priority in our school. Without APPLE Schools it wouldn’t be possible, so I’m thrilled to be part of this positive experience for the staff and students." - APPLE school health facilitator in Fishing Lake Metis Settlement

Researchers conducted data collection and findings show that amidst growing concerns around mental health during the pandemic, there has not been a decline in mental health and wellness for children in APPLE school communities. These mental health findings were recently shared at the Canadian Public Health Association's COVID-19 forum.

The project is evidence based. Working with the School of Public Health, University of Alberta, we know that APPLE Schools benefits all students, regardless of socioeconomic background. Students who attend APPLE schools take ownership of their own health and demonstrate many proven benefits:

     • Decreased mental health visits in adolescence

     • 35% increase in physical activity, in and out of school

     • 2-3 times more steps taken per day

     • Consume 10% more fruits and vegetables per day

     • 40% less chance of becoming obese than students in comparison schools

     • Show an improved quality of life, leadership abilities, productivity, and learning

     • Take healthy habits home, influencing the home environment positively

      • Decreased chance and severity of ADHD

Each school's action plan includes student-led activities which are designed to make healthy living fun and engaging. Examples include planting class gardens, physical activity programs like Pound Fitness, mindfulness activities, student leadership training, healthy snack programs, resiliency training, Indigenous games and land-based learning, and more.

APPLE Schools uses a comprehensive school health approach in its implementation model, which is an internationally recognized framework for supporting improvements in students' educational outcomes while addressing school health in a planned, integrated, and holistic way. 

APPLE Schools' model is very unique in that:

1. It is backed by world-class research. 

2. It uses a comprehensive school health approach, along with eight essential elements for implementing comprehensive school health, which is based on research by Dr. Kate Storey. This includes having a paid and trained school health facilitator in each new APPLE school to facilitate healthy changes. 

3. APPLE staff help build sustainable practices into school cultures so that eventually the healthy choice becomes the easy choice with minimal support from APPLE Schools. 

4. It has a creative funding model where schools need less financial support from APPLE Schools as they build in their sustainable initiatives and create partnerships with community businesses. 

In 2021, APPLE Schools finalized and now shared their guide to implementation which allows school and systems leaders to understand and implement their unique model, and use the essential elements to begin readiness and action to scale their intervention. Interest has been immediate from across Canadian partners, and also from new friends in Kenya, Mexico, and Antigua.

Over the last five years, APPLE Schools have added 21 rural and remote schools to their program, helping almost 4,000 new students to have healthier lives, and they are currently actively fundraising to expand again in 2022. 

In late 2020, APPLE Schools was selected by LEAP Healthy Futures Accelerator as the top venture with five years of support to help the project scale to reach more students, families, and communities across Canada.



Research

HundrED Academy Review

Academy review results
Scalability
Impact
High Impact
Low Scalability
High Impact
High Scalability
Low Impact
Low Scalability
Low Impact
High Scalability
Read more about our selection process
Media

See this innovation in action

A screenshot from one of APPLE Schools' upbeat interactive events designed to empower school health champions and facilitators with a toolbox of practical ideas to keep students healthy and moving in the classroom, while respecting COVID-19 protocols. 
Students in one APPLE school were immersed in land-based learning for several weeks. They connected with elders to guide them on the topic of living off the land, and learned practical skills from them, like these girls who are scraping caribou hides. 
APPLE Schools staff took part in Bell Let's Talk day, a national campaign to normalize talking about mental health. Each member shared a photo with a message about what lifts them up when they are low, and shared it with schools and on social media. 
One APPLE school took the time to intentionally spread joy in their community and keep hope alive by posting hearts with positive messages around the school fence. 
One class set up a physically distanced obstacle course to keep students moving throughout the day!
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.
Even though students couldn't go to school, many still celebrated Outdoor Classroom Day. They took a walk out in nature to calm their minds, and collected some nature items to use for a math activity at home, combining outdoor play, physical activity and mathematics. 
During the pandemic, APPLE Schools has been sharing healthy snack recipes for students to try at home. These students are whipping up overnight oatmeal and smoothies to stay nourished. 
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. 
A school health mentor brought her young children to help her stock grab-and-go apple baskets for a parent teacher night proving you are never too young to set an example. 
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.
This school promoted wellness by hosting a tropical-themed family wellness night which included fruit scavenger hunts, healthy snacks, a salad making activity, and more. 
School heath facilitators and mentors are trying a new activity to bring to school communities to inspire health and wellness. 
Elizabeth School on Elizabeth Metis Settlement is one of APPLE's newest schools, and they were happy to take part in their very first Winter Walk Day to encourage outdoor activities during the winter months. 
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. 
APPLE schools are getting creative in inspiring learning at home during COVID-19, and students are trying new activities to stay engaged and healthy. 
Many APPLE schools integrate traditional teachings by embracing land-based learning, creating art, learning traditional games, and inviting elders to share their stories.
A Grade 1 class takes a yoga break.
Students take a moment to practice mindfulness.
Many APPLE schools tie Indigenous perspectives into their teachings. In the photo, an Inuit elder teaches about her traditional foods.
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.

Milestones

Achievements & Awards

December 2020
Selected for LEAP Healthy Futures Accelerator – APPLE Schools was chosen as one of 11 organizations, from ~7,000 organizations engaged.
November 2019
HundrED Top 100 of 2020
November 2017
ASBA Friends of Education Award for successfully championing healthy schools.
October 2017
Board Award of Excellence (Fort McMurray Public School District) for successfully championing healthy schools.
October 2017
ASBA Zone 1 Friends of Education Award (Northland School Division no. 61) for successfully championing healthy schools.
June 2012
Recognized by the National Cancer Institute on its RTIP database
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Steps

Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

01
Building an APPLE School
Building an APPLE School – A roadmap to sustainable healthy school communities is your roadmap to building a school environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice for life.
Read more