Healthy Schools Campaign works to ensure that schools can provide students with healthy environments, nutritious food, health services and opportunities for physical activity. HSC has developed an effective model that is helping transform the school experience. Our approach is strategic, clear and comprehensive: We engage, we advocate and we build.
HSC’s unique approach connects our work for systems change on a national, state and local level with on-the-ground work in Chicago Public Schools and school districts across the country. Our work on the ground informs our perspective on national policy and marketplace change.
HSC engages school stakeholders, including students, parents, teachers and principals, to provide them with the knowledge and skills to make changes for health and wellness at the school level and to have a voice at the district, state and national levels.
For example, HSC’s Cooking up Change has engaged thousands of student chefs in cities across the country to develop healthy school meals that students actually want to eat. Student chefs also travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with elected officials and national leaders, which puts student voices front and center in the national dialogue about school food.
Using our on-the-ground experience, HSC develops practical policy recommendations supporting healthy schools and advocates for these recommendations. We also strengthen the advocacy and leadership skills of parents, students and school leaders so they can advocate on their own behalf.
For example, we advocated for data about chronic absenteeism to be included on public report cards. We’re now working with states and schools to enact policies that address the health-related reasons students miss school.
Making sure that schools have the capacity to support wellness is critical to creating sustainable change, so HSC carries out behind-the-scenes work of building support for student health and wellness in the education sector and beyond.
Following successful parent-led advocacy to bring back recess in Chicago, for example, HSC talked with principals, teachers and parents to identify challenges they face in implementing this policy. One of the main challenges they identified was a lack of trained volunteers to support the effort. Others mentioned a lack of space or problems with old, broken playground equipment. HSC, working with parent leaders, organized trainings to equip parents to serve as recess monitors. HSC then launched the Space to Grow initiative with Openlands to build vibrant green schoolyards to support recess and outdoor education, among other goals.
Transforming Wellness Policies + Implementation
HSC successfully supported the adoption of district-wide health and wellness policies in Chicago including policies supporting physical education, healthy snacks and beverages and free breakfast in the classroom. The impact of these new policies has been tremendous. For example, 74 percent of Chicago Public Schools high schools are now offering physical education, after nearly a decade without any high schools offering PE! Now we are working with parents and school leaders to make sure the policy is implemented effectively across the district, providing healthy schools for all CPS students.
Transforming School Food
350,000+ students in Chicago Public Schools are eating healthier school food—including regionally-grown produce and chicken raised without antibiotics in nearby Indiana—thanks to policies and practices the district has put in place with HSC’s support. Nationally, HSC is putting student voices front and center in the policy dialogue around school food through our Cooking up Change healthy cooking contest. We are joining advocates across the nation to speak up and defend hard-won progress for nutritious food in schools.
Transforming School Fitness
74 percent of Chicago Public Schools high schools are now offering physical education, after nearly a decade without any high schools offering PE! HSC advocated strongly for the district’s new PE policy. The policy requires high-quality daily PE for all students, giving physical education the importance it deserves and ensuring that students receive the significant benefits of daily exercise. Now we are working with parents and school leaders to raise awareness of the importance of daily PE and help galvanize resources at the district and school levels to help schools bridge the gap as they adjust to the new policy. Through our Fit to Learn professional development program, we’re working with teachers and principals to ensure daily PE focuses on engaging all students in physical activity to build lifelong healthy habits.
Transforming School Facilities and Operations
200,000+ school decision-makers are making their schools healthier with the support of GreenCleanSchools.org, HSC’s online resource that provides schools with the information and tools to implement a healthy, environmentally responsible cleaning program.
Transforming the School Experience in Chicago
HSC has shifted the way we work with parents, teachers and principals in Chicago, defining a targeted group of 50 schools where we provide trainings, workshops and technical assistance on topics such as school food, nutrition education, school gardens and school improvement planning. By leveraging our work with this group, we can support real change at individual schools while at the same time providing a large enough cohort to influence district policy.
Transforming School Health Services
Millions of students stand to benefit from recent policy changes resulting from HSC’s work to increase access to school health services. HSC is working to ensure the role schools can play in delivering school health services is recognized and that more funding is available to support the delivery of these services. HSC is working at the federal, state and local levels to implement this work and catalyze efforts across the country to provide students with the health care they need to thrive.
These numbers represent a small snapshot of HSC’s impact. We invite you to learn more about our work throughout this site. If you would like to discuss these efforts in more detail, please contact us.