In too many school districts, local wellness policies (LWPs) remain fragmented, underdeveloped, or lack sufficient implementation plans. However, given that children spend so many of their waking hours at school, it only makes sense for schools to play a role in teaching and practicing healthy nutrition and physical activity habits.
Together, with members of our community and school administrators, we can work to develop or update LWPs to ensure that the unique needs of each school can be addressed, ultimately helping to decrease health disparities and improve overall wellness for all children. It’s one way we can work together to set our kids up for a healthy future.
Whether you choose to write an op-ed for your local newspaper, strike up a conversation at the grocery store with a neighbor, or speak at your child’s school, there are certain key messages you’ll want to include in your conversation to make your point most compelling. Make sure to include a variety of perspectives in your messages to fit with a specific audience such as teachers, parents, school administrators and reporters. Taking the time to tailor your message to share a perspective that is important to that audience will help you create a broad coalition of support for developing and implementing your own school wellness policy.
Before you start building your campaign, it’s important to map out your main objectives—what you want to achieve—and align them with the Key Messages below.
Once you determine the specific policies and improvements that make sense for your community, make sure to include potential solutions in all your communication efforts, so that key stakeholders have a clear vision of what you’re trying to accomplish and how they can help.
Overarching Messages in Support of Developing or Updating School Wellness Policies
This is the messaging thread that should connect all communications, no matter the policy objective.
Schools play a critical role in helping kids learn and practice healthy nutrition and physical activity habits, and creating a healthy school environment is critical for improving children’s overall health.
Parents and community members must be active partners in helping schools establish and cultivate healthy nutrition and physical activity habits.
Schools should actively partner with parents, teachers, and other community members to develop or update their LWP to ensure kids are receiving and learning healthy nutrition and physical activity habits that can last a lifetime.
Successful LWPs are the result of community input and involvement as well as transparent implementation.
Schools should be places that support the health and wellness of all children – no matter where they live, what school they attend, or what grade they are in.
Raise Your Hand. Support School Wellness.
Supporting Message Points
When you write and speak about your cause, here are some message points to highlight. Remember that there may be different audiences you’re trying to reach with your campaign. From parents and teachers to other community members, each message point should be written to match the perspective of that audience member, so that everyone feels empowered and encouraged to get involved!
Effects on Children (Audiences: Active Parents/Local Non-Profit Organizations, like the PTA)
Since children spend many of their waking hours and eat up to half of their daily calories at school, schools must play a crucial role in cultivating healthy eating, physical activity habits and overall wellness.
Healthy, active children learn better, perform better academically and have less behavior problems. Schools should be places that support the health and wellness of all children – no matter where they live, what school they attend, or what grade they are in.
Standards of LWPs (Audiences: School Administrators/Decision Makers/Law-Makers/State Legislators/Health and Wellness Professionals)
LWPs should incorporate updated nutrition standards for school meals and snacks; classroom celebrations and rewards; nutrition education; marketing of unhealthy food and beverages; physical activity; and physical education.
It is important that states and school districts enact regulations that mirror or go beyond USDA rules for LWPs, and that they equitably support the implementation of those policies to ensure that all children benefit.