School Health Models

In her 1997 book, Teaching Positions: Difference, Pedagogy, and the Power of Address, Elizabeth Ellsworth defined “ignor-ance” as “an active dynamic of negation, an active refusal of information.”  Recently the Oxford Dictionary selected “post-truth” as their word of the year.  The word is defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotional and personal belief.”  Dr. Trevor Hancock in the Victoria Times Colonist, November 23, 2016.

“Each community needs to determine its own priorities and find the areas where people can agree to work together. They need to be in it for the long haul.” —  Dr. Trevor Hancock, Professor and Senior Scholar at the University of Victoria’s School of Public Health and Social Policy.


Hart’s Model of Youth Participation

Effective youth participation is about creating opportunities for young people to be involved in influencing, shaping, designing and contributing to policy and the development of services and programs.

The Youth Participation Model and explanation is available on and



The CSH/HPS Model

CSH/HPS (Comprehensive School Health or Health Promoting School) are the traditional coordinated school health models for promoting a healthy school community. The key elements are available on a variety of websites.

CSH/HPS Website Workhorses


Sourced from Healthy Schools BC website

The WSCC Model

WSCC – (Whole School/Whole Community/Whole Child) is a model launched in 2007 as a “Collaborative Approach to Learning and Health.” WSCC combines and builds on elements of CSH and calls for greater alignment, integration and collaboration between health and education to improve each child’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional development.

WSCC has expanded the original components of CSH and recognizes the need to engage students as active participants in their learning and health. The focus of the WSCC Model is on the whole person. School health programs are coordinated and modernized.

Website Workhorse

Visit the ACSD Whole Child Initiative site for information about:

  • Why We Need a Collaborative Approach to Learning and Health
  • The Need for a New Model
  • Expanded Components
  • Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child
  • End Notes
  • Core and Consultation Groups
  • The WSCC Model


School Health: Key Elements

heart-puzzleSchool health research suggests that school communities need to have a variety of opportunities that will assist the school population to reach its full potential.

  • A shared vision with realistic goals Collaboration based on trust and shared responsibility is central to the process. Parents, staff, students, school administration, district personnel and community partners all play a role in influencing health.
  • Holistic approach Health instruction and student services are coordinated in a clean, safe and health-promoting environment and are supported by health policies, families and the larger community.
  • Distinct health instruction Consistent, enthusiastic instruction by capable teachers and community partners is advisable.
  • Longitudinal Process The process needs to occur over several years to be meaningful and relevant to young people’s social and cognitive development.
  • Professional Development for all staff Health education training in a whole school context is vital. Staff wellness programs reduce absenteeism and improve job effectiveness.
  • Youth Leadership Youth leaders share decisions with adults. (See the Ladder of Young People’s Participation.)
  • Support Services Organizations work in partnership to deliver services e.g. public health, parks and recreation, elders, justice, universities, colleges, businesses.
  • Sustainability Financial and human resources need to be committed to health education, social services and families.

Connections Matter

An important protective factor

University of Victoria (British Columbia) professor Sibylle Artz, an expert on youth violence, says that extensive research on preventing delinquency and recidivism has shown the importance of maintaining connections with families and communities.


No Magic Formula

There is no magic formula for creating a healthy school community. There is no one-size-fits-all.

Dr. Dan Reist of the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of BC writes about the comprehensive school health approach that seeks to nurture a variety of protective factors that help build resilient individuals who are able to bounce back from adversity. Learn about their resources for helping schools at

In the Promising Practice Series, Dr. Reist mentions that comprehensive school health programs do not focus simply on “fixing” students but aim to change the school environment and actively engage students in the learning process. The structures, policies, procedures and staff are encouraged by the whole-school approach to operate in a healthy way and thereby both model and promote “health.” There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

“A Quick Summary of Current Evidence” provides valuable information that suggests combined strategies produce better results. Research supports the need for school communities to focus on changing the culture of the school to encourage greater school attachment and involvement. A large US study, replicated in other countries, found that when students feel connected to their school community and to caring adults within it, risk behaviors are significantly reduced.

Positive mental health is the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face.  It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual wellbeing that respects the importance of culture, equity, social justice, interconnections and personal dignity. (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2006)

The traditional school health approach vs CSH/HPS/WSCC for the 21st Century

A comprehensive set of programs can be woven into the fabric of every school. In developing a comprehensive, integrated approach, every school can be seen as a key element of its community. School and community are not separate entities.

Traditional Approach

  • Focuses on didactic classroom teaching.
  • Addresses health issues one by one.
  • Considers only the health needs of students.
  • Focuses only on the school.


CSH/HPS/WSCC for the 21st Century

  • teenagers2Focuses on all aspects of the school community:
    • integrated instruction/health education
    • services for students
    • health promoting environment
    • social support
    • school community context
  • Addresses and integrates specific health issues into a coordinated program of developing health literacy and life skills.
  • Is concerned with health needs of staff, students, parents and the broader school community.
  • Focuses on the school in the context of the local community.


Human beings are not things needing to be motivated and controlled; they are four dimensional−body, mind, heart and spirit.

Dr. Stephen R. Covey

Value school health and follow this formula for success


More food for thought

Sir Ken Robinson, a world-renowned education and creativity expert, fascinatingly draws and talks about reasons to change education. We are still doing what we did in the past and this is alienating kids, according to Robinson.

Robinson suggests that we need to think differently about human capacity and to consider that collaboration is the stuff of growth. He focuses on the culture of the institution, the habits and the habitats that our institutions occupy.