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APPLE Schools

location_on Canada

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 2023


HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED Global Collection 2023

HundrED 2020

Web presence






Target group
January 12th, 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

APPLE Schools makes the healthy choice the easy choice

APPLE Schools works with vulnerable school communities to educate students about how to live healthier, feel happier, and achieve success through making positive choices in a challenging world. Healthier kids have better learning outcomes, and students in APPLE Schools have better nutrition habits, are more physically active, and feel better, which helps them be better learners and score higher on academic tests. The project shifts school cultures around wellness, making the healthy choice the easy choice for everyone in a way that avoids giving already busy teachers more work. 

APPLE Schools supports each school in using evidence to develop a unique action plan every year that outlines its tailored path toward a sustainable and healthy community, and help to implement it. Each school's action plan includes student-led activities which are designed to make healthy living fun and engaging while teaching students life skills and providing an enriching environment for learning. Examples include planting class gardens, special physical activity programs, mindfulness activities, student leadership training, healthy snack programs, resiliency education, Indigenous games and land-based learning, and more. Every plan is based on the unique cultural needs of each community; for example, many APPLE schools are Indigenous communities that promote wellness through traditional teachings like storytelling, land-based learning and cultural drumming and dancing. 

Kids spend half their day at school which has a profound effect on shaping students’ health behaviours during this time. Schools control the amount of physical activity students get, their food choices, social learning environment, and much more. That is why APPLE Schools targets schools using a comprehensive school health approach, an internationally recognized framework for supporting improvements in students' educational outcomes while addressing school health in a planned, integrated, and holistic way. They target student mental health, healthy eating, physical activity by applying a health lens to every activity that happens in school. 

We support schools each year through mentorship, funding for healthy initiatives, training and empowering staff to drive healthy changes in schools, and sharing health promotion resources. 

2022 saw the first research emerge on children’s perceptions around the effects of school closures on their health. Children reported considerable declines in lifestyle behaviours, leading to the conclusion that with the already high burden of unhealthy lifestyles pre-COVID, this generation of children is at an increased risk for future chronic disease. These findings are currently helping to guide APPLE Schools to shape implementation in schools moving forward to help combat the negative trends in a post-pandemic climate. 

In the most recent months, APPLE Schools has been scaling and innovating new ways to reach even more students with its award-winning model. In early 2022, APPLE Schools welcomed 13 new APPLE ally schools, increasing their impact from 21,000 students in 74 schools each year to almost 30,000 students in 87 schools each year!

APPLE ally schools are part of an innovative pilot project to see whether an altered version of APPLE Schools’ model will have the same impact on student health behaviours. The idea for this pilot project came from APPLE school educators who transferred to non-APPLE schools and saw an opportunity to use their experience to reach more students with the benefits of the project. APPLE Schools’ staff listened, and they worked together to make the new project a reality. Since January of 2022, APPLE ally schools have hit the ground running launching new, healthy initiatives and making the healthy choice easy in their community. Scientific research will be conducted to measure the results and if they prove to improve health behaviours, the project will become more accessible to many more school communities that require intervention. 

As we continue to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, there are opportunities to create new best practices to address the gaps exposed in many services, including education. APPLE Schools is in the process of finishing the creation of a school health promotion toolkit for teachers, which will be full of evidence-based strategies to keep wellness a priority during virtual learning periods. This toolkit is being created by researchers and designed and vetted by educators to ensure it is practical and actionable. It was inspired by the pandemic lockdowns when learning moved to homes and many APPLE school teachers found effective strategies to keep students engaged in healthy activities. The toolkit will be available for everyone in the fall of 2022 to engage students in holistic wellness education and activities during any potential crisis where schools close.

"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 Métis Settlement

While school staff and parents play a large role in building a healthy school environment, the project's success ultimately relies on student leaders taking charge. Students are heavily involved in creating a vision of their ideal healthy school, and taking leadership roles in driving initiatives in the action plan. The leadership education gives students confidence, a sense of pride, and ownership. The latest APPLE Schools research, called It takes a community: Exploring APPLE Schools’ impact within and beyond school walls in Canada, found that its school-based health promotion approach reaches beyond school walls and can influence the broader community environment. Habits at school can end up as habits at home, which research has confirmed in APPLE communities. The school environment provides both formal and informal learning opportunities to develop healthy habits, which play a crucial role in students bringing those habits home with them.

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

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

     • Consume 10% more fruits and vegetables per day

     • 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

APPLE Schools' model is 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.

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.

Impact & scalability

HundrED Academy Reviews
Several academic studies have proven different aspects of the impact of this methodology on the development of kids. Trough the comprehensive school health approach this initiative has been able to build healthier behaviors that last a whole life.
The need to make schools a healthy environment is universal making this innovation to appeal to many. It also has resources and information that addresses all questions that relates to its scalability and adaptability in new environments.
- 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


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!
Helping elders in the community
At Thickwood Heights School in #YMM, students harvested their medley of vegetables from the school garden for school-wide cooking projects, like making tomato relish for elders in their community.
Learning through obstacle courses
One class in Fort McMurray created an obstacle course to stay active in the classroom while learning and connecting. 
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. 
A Grade 1 class takes a yoga break.
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. It is based on APPLE Schools' experience and evidence-based approach, and is meant to provide a solid sense of the road ahead and how to prepare so that you reach your destination successfully. 

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