Health and education are closely connected and research shows that healthy students are better learners. Since young people spend most of their day in school, this setting has an important role in the health of children and youth.
This page includes information about approaches and initiatives to school health, including an explanation of Comprehensive School Health, a description of the Pan-Canadian Joint Consortium for School Health, and further information about how the Public Health Agency of Canada supports school health.
On this page:
- About comprehensive school health
- Pan-Canadian Joint Consortium for School Health
- How we support school health
- School Health Grant for Youth
About comprehensive school health
Comprehensive school health is an internationally recognized approach that supports:
- improving the outcomes of student education
- addressing school health in a holistic way (achieved by focusing actions outside of the traditional classroom, and looking at the whole school environment)
We can encourage healthy living for students by teaching them about good health behaviours and assisting school administrators in incorporating health and wellbeing into all aspects of school and learning. This can include:
- offering healthy food choices
- promoting physical activity
- encouraging positive relationships with teachers and peers
- creating school policies that support good health
Long term, research shows that comprehensive school health helps students develop the skills needed for academic success and to be physically and emotionally healthy for life.
A comprehensive school health approach has four distinct but inter-related parts:
- teaching and learning
- partnerships and services
- social and physical environment
When we direct our actions to all four components, we support students to realize their full potential as learners and as healthy, productive members of society.
Pan-Canadian Joint Consortium for School Health (JCSH)
Provincial, territorial, and federal governments established the Pan-Canadian Joint Consortium for School Health (JCSH) in 2005. It has members from ministries related to health and education from most provinces and territories. Its purpose is to:
- bring representatives from the provincial and territorial education and health systems together to support the health, well-being, and achievement of children and youth in Canadian schools
- collaborate on shared priorities about student health
Since each province and territory has their own initiatives to develop and foster healthy school environments for students, the JCSH aims to be a common voice on:
- the promotion of comprehensive school health in Canada
- the general wellness and success of all Canadian students
The JCSH also develops resources that can help to create and support a healthy school environment. Some examples include:
- Positive Mental Health Toolkit: designed to guide schools in promoting positive mental health practices and perspectives.
- Healthy School Planner: can assess the school's health environment and suggest improvements.
- Youth Engagement Toolkit: provides resources and effective practices to support youth engagement as a key approach to implementing comprehensive school health.
The JCSH also issues an annual report to summarize the group's collective progress on supporting healthy school environments.
These toolkits and the JCSH annual report are publicly available through the JCSH website.
How we support school health
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) recognises the important link between health and education. We support the JCSH's efforts to promote the health and well-being of children and youth through the comprehensive school health model. We do this by:
- representing the JCSH on a federal level
- collaborating with other JCSH members as an advisor and observer at committee meetings and task groups
Apart from our work with the JCSH, we also:
- support child and youth rights in Canada, as part of our commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, such as by commemorating National Child Day
- support research on school health, including the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study in Canada
PHAC has developed a grant program for youth, ages 13 to 19 and enrolled in grades 9 to 12, who have ideas to develop a youth-driven project to improve healthy living in their school. Healthy living projects developed by youth using grant funding must focus on one or a combination of the following four JCSH and PHAC priorities:
- Substance use and related harms
- Positive mental health and well-being
- Healthy eating and nutrition
- Physical activity
- Pan-Canadian Joint Consortium for School Health
- Resources for preventing substance use and related harms among youth
- Blueprint for Action: Preventing substance-related harms among youth through a Comprehensive School Health approach
- National Child Day
- The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study in Canada
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