Empowering Parents to Be Part of School Wellness Decision-Making Processes
July 18, 2014
Strategies that schools can use
Parents care deeply about their children’s health, making them ideal allies in making decisions that support student wellness. Wellness teams, required by Chicago Public Schools (CPS), can also be a valuable way for schools to involve parents in decision making.
Here’s how can schools can involve parents in decision making…
Enlist parents in identifying school wellness and safety priorities.
Parents have vital knowledge of communities’ needs, and they should be used as a resource for insight into how these issues can be addressed. Create opportunities for focus groups to receive feedback from parents on community-specific needs that can be addressed by schools. Download a sample survey (page 91) that can be used to determine these needs.
Create a parent-led wellness team.
Every CPS school is required to have a wellness team, with a Wellness Champion appointed by the principal. Wellness teams are groups of individuals who work together to ensure that the school supports student health. The members may be parents, teachers, the school nurse, the principal, a PE teacher or other staff members. Each quarter the wellness team reports progress to the Local School Council.
Parents involvement is critical to a successful wellness team. By working as part of a wellness team, parents can be the face of health and wellness initiatives in your school, increasing peer-to-peer interaction with other parents and creating a comfortable environment where they can engage.
Here’s the story of Liliana Hernandez, who became an invaluable member of her school’s wellness team and advocated for healthier policies across CPS.
Here are some reflections by HSC’s Guillermo Gomez and Jovita Flores, discussing the impact of parents as leaders.
Partner with a community-based nonprofit such as HSC.
Community organizations and nonprofits have a strong track record of working with parents and can be valuable allies in assisting with parents’ leadership development. Here’s more information on HSC’s Parents United for Healthy Schools. Since 2006, Parents United has garnered national recognition for its role in transforming food and fitness in Chicago’s schools.
Made possible [in part] by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (Grant Number: 1H75DP004181-01) to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Office of Student Health and Wellness, Healthy CPS. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions and official policies of CPS or CDC.