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APPLE Schools makes the healthy choice the easy choice
Success Coach, Lee Ridge School - Edmonton, Canada
APPLE Schools works with vulnerable school communities to integrate healthy initiatives into the day 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 embed lifelong healthy habits.
The organization 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.
During the time of COVID-19, APPLE Schools has adapted to the changing needs of school communities by supporting student health at home. Staff regularly share tailored wellness resources and hosted virtual professional development events for school health champions and facilitators to ensure that they feel equipped to keep students healthy and motivated during this challenging time.
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:
Each school's plan includes student-led activities which are designed to make healthy living fun and engaging. Examples include planting class gardens, physical activity programs, 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 this research. 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.
APPLE Schools is on track to reach 100 schools by 2025. In September 2019, we officially started implementation in four new vulnerable, remote school communities -- two in Alberta, and two in British Columbia, bringing our total to impacting just over 20,000 students in 74 school communities across four provinces.