In August 2010, the Sequoia Healthcare District (SHD) launched the Healthy Schools Initiative to support four San Mateo county school districts with funding for staff and programs aimed at improving the physical and emotional health of students and families. The Gardner Center partnered with SHD and the districts to conduct an implementation study designed to explore ways in which the initiative has affected the coordination of health and wellness programs and activities in schools and districts and how this, in turn, has influenced awareness and accessibility of programming. Researchers conducted interviews and focus groups with school and district staff, parents, and high school students, and found that nearly 100% of participants valued health and wellness in schools. Additionally, teachers and other school staff who were committed to student wellness played an important role in increasing student access to health and wellness information, programs, activities, and resources. Analyses revealed that effective and purposeful coordination was associated with increased integration of health and wellness programs within and across schools and districts, reaching more students equitably and leveraging resources. These and other findings from this study have actionable practice and policy implications.
Westrich, L., Sanchez, M., Strobel, K., Duong, N. (2012) Healthy Schools Initiative: Implementation Study in Four San Mateo County School Districts. Stanford, CA: John W. Gardner Center for Youth and their Communities.