By SDCN Editor
San Diego, CA–Thirty schools in the San Diego Unified School District have been awarded the distinction of America’s Healthiest Schools for their dedication to supporting the health and well-being of students, staff, and families.
San Diego Unified earned more America’s Healthiest School Awards than any other district in California and ranked fifth in the nation for the distinction.
“As a school district, our commitment is to foster environments where all members of the school community can learn, grow, and thrive. This includes supporting the physical, mental, and social-emotional health and well-being of students and staff,” Board of Education President Sabrina Bazzo said. “These awards demonstrate the exemplary job our educators and staff are doing in schools and classrooms across the district to support the whole child.”
San Diego Unified has invested in a comprehensive and system-wide approach to school wellness since 2016. Every school has a designated school wellness coordinator and is encouraged to create wellness committees of staff, families, community partners, and student wellness ambassadors to help ensure they are prioritizing health and wellness in all its facets.
“In San Diego Unified, wellness is a comprehensive and collaborative approach that supports the whole school, whole community, and whole child,” said Kate McDevitt, the district’s Wellness Program supervisor. “This national recognition is a wonderful opportunity to spotlight our dedicated School Wellness Coordinators, who are working to create healthier school communities. We couldn’t be more thrilled for our awardees.”
Presented by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, America’s Healthiest Schools is an annual recognition program that celebrates schools for implementing policies and practices to promote health and well-being.
Schools are recognized for demonstrating remarkable efforts to prioritize the essential health needs of their school community and exceeding best practice standards in one or more topic areas, including:
- Increasing Family and Community Engagement – Facilitating collaborations to meet student, family, and caregiver needs alongside student learning and development
- Strengthening Social-Emotional Health and Learning – Supporting the social-emotional, mental, and behavioral health of students
- Cultivating Staff Well-Being – Helping staff build and maintain resilience through policies and practices that promote self-care, positive work culture, and healthy behaviors
- Improving Nutrition and Food Access – Promoting and increasing healthy eating and food access through school nutrition programs and nutrition education
- Implementing Local School Wellness Policy – Advancing health-promoting practices through implementation of the district’s wellness policy
- Bolstering Physical Education and Activity – Providing opportunities for students to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to develop and sustain lifelong physical activity practices
- Promoting Tobacco-Free Schools – Fostering a tobacco-free learning environment through the implementation of the district tobacco-free policy
- Enriching Health Education – Providing educational experiences for students to gain health literacy, make healthy decisions, and adopt health-promoting behavior
- Supporting School Health Services – Providing services to address and prevent health concerns, health emergencies, and chronic health conditions
The 30 San Diego Unified schools being recognized are among the 781 schools nationwide to be named as America’s Healthiest Schools for the 2022-2023 school year. Healthier Generation’s list of America’s Healthiest Schools remains one of the country’s longest-running, nationwide recognition programs honoring schools for achievements in supporting the whole health of students, teachers, and staff.
“This year, Healthier Generation continues to meet districts, schools, and educators where they are, recognizing it takes a considerable degree of effort to serve as a model of best practice in whole child health for students, teachers, staff, and community,” said Kathy Higgins, chief executive officer at Healthier Generation. “We commend America’s Healthiest Schools for demonstrating resilience and adaptability amid challenging times for our nation’s schools.”
Any school can connect with Healthier Generation to access training, resources, and technical assistance by visiting HealthierGeneration.org.