Celebrating National Success in 2015

December 18, 2015

By Rochelle Davis, HSC President and CEO

Healthy Schools Campaign is committed to creating the conditions of student health and wellness so that every child has the opportunity to attend a healthy school.

We bring a simple approach to this vision: empower, advocate and build. We empower school stakeholders, advocate for policy change and work to build the capacity to implement these changes. 2015 has been an exciting year as our vision continues to come into focus. I’d like to share some of our successes:

Including health in education policy. Earlier this month, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We advocated for the inclusion of language around chronic absenteeism, and are encouraged that many other health-promoting provisions we supported were in the final bill. This represents a major step forward in helping schools create the conditions to support student health and wellness. Read more.

Hosting the first National Green Schoolyard Summit. In May, we hosted the first National Green Schoolyards Summit here in Chicago. Given our work in Chicago to transform schoolyards, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to share and learn with other green schoolyard leaders from across the country. This summit brought together leaders and experts from across the country to share and learn about several different types of green schoolyard models, and to explore innovative partnerships and funding streams that support the development of green schoolyards. We also heard about the impact these schoolyards are making—from improving standardized test scores, to increasing teacher satisfaction and retention, to managing stormwater and increasing physical activity—as proof that green schoolyards are both school and community assets. We will publish a report about this summit in early 2016. Read more.

Holding the first annual Green Clean Schools Leadership Summit. At HSC, we believe in the power of people to make changes in their schools and community to support student health and wellness. This year, we had the opportunity to bring together some of the top school facility managers in the country for shared learning. We hosted 90 green cleaning leaders at the first-ever Green Clean Schools Leadership Summit. The two-day meeting, which took place on the University of Washington’s picturesque Seattle campus, represented an opportunity for us to empower leaders from across the K-12 and university communities and the cleaning industry. Read more.

The ED’s Launch of the Every Student, Every Day initiative. In October, the Department of Education launched a nationwide initiative aimed at reducing chronic absenteeism. The work on chronic absenteeism done as part of our National Collaborative on Education and Health—which HSC co-convenes along with Trust for America’s Health—informed the initiative. We know that health is key to ensuring students are in school and ready to learn. We look forward to working with the Department of Education and other partners on this initiative to make sure that all students are in schools, where they can learn and thrive. A major focus of this effort is to support states and school districts in building the capacity to support families and students in attending school. Read more.

Elevating Student Voices in the School Food Policy Debate. HSC’s Cooking up Change healthy cooking contest empowers students to put their voices front and center in the national policy dialogue about school food—and in actual policy briefings on Capitol Hill. In 2015, nine teams of culinary students competed in the national finals in Washington, D.C., and took their message to a Capitol Hill briefing on school food, a Senate tasting event and individual meetings with their Congressional representatives to speak about the importance of healthy school food. Read more.

Thank you and kudos to the many advocates, students, nurses, school facility managers, parents, educators, partners organizations and other leaders who have helped bring about these changes by raising your voices for healthy schools.

Plus: 2015 has been an exciting year for HSC here in Chicago! Take a look at our Chicago-based 2015 milestones for healthy schools.