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Schools & Child Care

Supporting healthy growth and development in schools

Schools play a vital role in supporting healthy growth and development among children and youth. Through classroom learning, students build awareness of health concepts and develop critical thinking and decision-making skills. Schools provide an ideal environment for developing healthy relationships, and modeling health behaviours.

The following action plan ideas are provided to help with supporting healthy growth and development at school. Include a selection of activities from each of the five Foundations for a Healthy School sections below, and/or engage students, staff, families and community partners to come up with ideas of your own:

We have compiled a list of lesson plans, curriculum supports, health unit programs and additional resources to assist educators in teaching about this topic. Find them by clicking on the links below:

Public health staff are also available to consult with educators about the Health and Physical Education curriculum, including the Human Development and Sexual Health components, to support professional development and capacity building.

  • Encourage dialogue about healthy relationships, diversity, and positive self-esteem; support respectful and thoughtful communication and decision-making among staff, students and families.
  • Register to participate in Healthy Schools and Eco Schools initiatives.
  • Develop healthy eating, healthy fund raising and physical activity policies.
  • Participate in activities to raise awareness about household food insecurity, such as the Cent$less campaign.
  • Involve students from older grades in teaching health concepts to younger students.
  • Have students come up with ideas for healthy classroom rewards.
  • Organizing a theme week/month or school-wide initiatives that encourage physical activity literacy.
  • Engage students as leaders, and promote physical activity over recess, through organized playground games such as our Healthy P.A.L.S. program.
  • Support students to develop a gay straight alliance (GSA). The health unit can provide support, information and resources to schools with an existing GSA, or to schools interested in starting one.
  • Create naturalized school playgrounds.
  • Lead programs to promote healthy living, such as running programs or intramurals.
  • Install a hydration station and encourage students and staff to bring a reusable water bottle to school.
  • Raise awareness about of local supports available to support the healthy growth and development of children, such as the Triple P - Positive Parenting Program, Healthy Smiles Ontario program, or health unit Immunization program.
  • Encourage families to update their child(ren)'s immunization records. The health unit collects and annually assesses immunization records for students of all ages.
  • Work with municipal and community partners on school travel planning, to encourage active and safe routes to school.
  • Work with community partners on environmental initiatives with a primary focus on environmental education and green space programs (such as the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation Grant)

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