Heart Healthy Schools is an initiative of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of New Brunswick aimed at improving the school environment to support and promote healthy lifestyle choices, for children and youth.
Health behaviours, such as making healthy food choices and being physically active, are sensitive to environmental influences.
The school environment, comprised of the physical and social environment, can play a significant role in supporting health behaviours in children and youth. The environment defines culture. A school culture that supports the healthy choice as the easiest and most popular choice available will benefit from student engagement in healthy lifestyle choices and behaviours.
These health behaviours are important for the healthy development of children and youth. They also play an imperative role in the prevention of childhood obesity – a major risk for many chronic diseases, including heart disease and stroke.
The Heart Healthy Schools program provides schools with tools and resources to help influence, improve, and instill health behaviours for the entire school population. Each school must choose a School Champion. That person will be tasked with ensuring that the 10-steps of the program are completed within one school year. They will also be responsible for recording their school’s progress and for ensuring the participation of the entire school during the four school wide challenges.
We want to ensure that the 10-steps are as easy as possible for your school, so by registering and signing the pledge, you have already completed steps 1 and 2! Step 3 consists of an introduction to the Heart Healthy Schools program. Step 4 is the Heart Healthy Schools Checklist. The Checklist enables us to thoroughly assess your school environment remotely. After completing the Checklist, you will be provided with feedback from a member of our team.
Steps 5 through 8 are the challenges, including: (1) The Fruit and Vegetable Challenge, (2) The Screen Time Challenge, (3) The Active Classroom Challenge, and (4) The Water Challenge. The Challenges can be completed in any order. In addition, each Challenge has a parent handout and poster that is to be hung throughout the school at the time of the Challenge.
Step 9 allows you to record your school’s changes and commitments for the year to come, while step 10 is the outro to the Heart Healthy Schools program and the designation of the Heart Healthy School status.
Schools who successfully receive the Heart Healthy School designation are eligible for a grant from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of New Brunswick. The grant must go toward a piece of infrastructure that will support and continue to promote the 5-2-1-0 message.
Designated Heart Healthy Schools become a part of a growing Heart Healthy Schools community and are encouraged to participate in the program year-after-year.