How to Make Our Schools Healthy

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation launched the Healthy Schools Program in February 2006 with an $8 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). RWJF provided an additional $20 million in 2007 to expand the program. The Healthy Schools Program provides technical assistance to help schools engage administrators, teachers, parents and vendors in increasing access to physical activity and healthier foods for students and staff. The current grant runs through August 2014.

"The Healthy Schools Program is about changing the culture of schools," says RWJF Senior Program Officer John Govea. The program is trying to make kids healthier by improving their schools' policies and practices—everything from what's served in the cafeteria to how long recess lasts.

"It's about providing schools with new ideas, knowledge and resources that they can use to make the changes that result in better nutrition and increased activity," says Govea.

The Healthy Schools Program has staff on the ground in 37 states, working with teachers and administrators to strengthen their schools' approach to health and wellness. Officially these staffers are called relationship managers, but coach is more apt because that's what they do: they coach schools through a six-step improvement process, starting with formation or activation of a wellness council to lead the effort.

The program also provides a wealth of online resources—tools to help schools assess their environments, make healthy changes and measure results.