Your wellness team is in place. You have population data from your needs assessment. It is time to develop action plans to make your school- wide wellness vision come true.
Action plans should include the team’s objectives, deliverables, timelines, responsible persons, and evaluation indicators. Use your action plan to aggregate data, select priorities, and identify the approaches that your school wellness team will take to improve physical health and social-emotional wellness. Your plans should articulate how you aim to change the culture and norms to create a healthier school population.
Action plans play a critical role in implementation of your school wellness efforts because they:
- Provide a guide for implementing school wellness efforts and tracking your progress and success.
- Remind you of the big goals, and the intermediate steps to get there.
- Delegate tasks and responsibilities, thereby holding team members accountable and showing how individual efforts connect to the larger whole.
- Help tell your story and highlight the impact of the school wellness work throughout the community.
- Revisit the school, parents, and youth sections as necessary for additional input or support
Some action plan templates only operationalize tasks, but we’ve incorporated some logic model components so you can connect the tasks to your overall vision, and create the conditions needed for a healthy, thriving school.
- Identify your priorities and set your overarching goals and strategic approaches.
- Align your action plan with your school wellness team vision.
- Determine priority areas using the needs assessment data to select focus areas. Pick issues with high need or opportunity, that are interconnected, and that are important to your students, school, and community (e.g. safety, healthy eating, social and emotional wellness, physical activity).
- Identify possible long-term outcomes for the school.
- Consider big goals that aim to affect norms, systems, and policies to create conditions for wellness. Your action plan can help you identify programs, activities, and events that create the conditions towards the goals.
- Identify incremental or short-term outcomes.
- Are there incremental changes your team can make at the clinic or in the classrooms that will help lead to a school-wide change? What outcomes will demonstrate success?
- Write objectives that aim to improve the current situation for each focus area (e.g. access to healthy food and drink, staff wellness, social and emotional wellness).
- Propose specific approaches and strategies to meet your objectives.
- Choose evidence- based approaches when possible. Approaches should be feasible to implement and acceptable to your school leadership and student body.
- Hallways to Health sites proposed a variety of approaches to meet the same objective of increasing access to healthy foods. Their approaches included: conducting clinical food insecurity screenings; using school gardens as nutritional education and ways to distribute produce; changing the food in vending machines; and running alternative school breakfast programs and food pantries. Teams selected best approaches for their schools based on available resources, and school and community interest and support.
- Determine objectives and measures for each approach.
- Effective objectives are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
- Where will you conduct your actions: in the clinic, classroom, school, or at the district or community levels?
- How will you evaluate your success? What are the indicators and outcomes you want to achieve for the student and staff populations? What health and educational impacts do you want to see? What data will you need to show change over time? What data are realistic to collect?
- Assign persons responsible for each approach.
- Click here for example school-wide wellness action plan.
- Meet with your school wellness team regularly to create a system for accountability, monitor ongoing commitments, and for continuous quality improvement. Meetings will also create opportunities to share challenges, trouble shoot, and celebrate your successes.
- Revisit and modify your action plan as needed. Are there limitations and barriers you’re encountering? What new supports do you need?
- Click here for School-Wide Wellness Impact Assessment, a tool to assess your outcomes.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program will give you access to free guidance, tools and resources to implement healthy policies and practices that improve student performance, attendance and behavior.
Check out the Healthy School Program Website for resources on assessments, action plans, model wellness policies, and professional development opportunities.
Stories from the Field
At San Fernando High School, San Fernando, CA school records and needs assessments data identified marijuana use as the primary cause of the high suspension rate. The SBHC staff focused their action plan around these data, including an objective to develop a policy related to minor marijuana offences and desired outcomes of reduced student marijuana use and suspension rates.
They worked with school administrators and the restorative justice coordinator to create a policy and referral process to connect students with minor marijuana offenses to behavioral health clinicians as alternatives to suspension. Students signed a contract with their parents and the Dean, agreeing to attend four group sessions on drug and alcohol use with the behavioral health clinician in place of suspension. Staff designed the sessions to deter students from using drugs as a coping mechanism. The behavioral health clinician signed off after the student completed each session. If the student did not complete the terms of the agreement, the protocol included a parent conference to discuss alternative educational options. After a year of implementing the marijuana-related restorative justice policy, suspensions decreased by 64 percent.
At Roosevelt Middle School, Oakland, CA the survey data showed that 44 percent of student respondents felt unsafe in the school hallways between classes. In their action plan, Roosevelt’s team listed safety and non-violent conflict as issues to address, and improved social skills as an outcome. Their plan included offering healing circles, leading a school-wide anti- bullying campaign, and offering Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS). Click here to see a sample parental consent form for screening and participation in CBITS.
As part of the anti-bullying campaign, Roosevelt SBHC staff partnered with Stanford University design students to “Hack the Hallways” to make students feel safer at school. Stanford University students and some Roosevelt students observed the hallways for one school day. Together, the students brainstormed ideas to make the school hallways safer. The students instituted a policy, supported by the school administration, where student representatives continually monitor and report on hallway activities. The Coordination of Services Team (COST) will look at the next student surveys to determine if there was a change in attitudes on hallway safety.
Laura Garcia-Chandler talks about the process and benefits of the school garden.
Aurora Chavez describes the restorative justice policy the wellness team created to decrease suspensions and expulsions.