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School Health & Wellness

Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 - Summary of Final Rule

A local school wellness policy is a written document of official policies that guide a local educational agency (LEA) or school district’s efforts to establish a school environment that promotes students’ health, well-being, and ability to learn by supporting healthy eating and physical activity.

The Local School Wellness Policy requirement was established by the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, and further strengthened by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. It requires each local LEA participating in the National School Lunch Program and/or School Breakfast Program to develop a local school wellness policy that promotes the health of students and addresses the growing problem of childhood obesity. The responsibility for developing a local school wellness policy is placed at the local level so the unique needs of each school under the jurisdiction of the LEA can be addressed.

Through a coordinated approach that includes school teachers, health and counseling services, district nutrition services, administration, parents, students and community members. Research has shown that strong school wellness councils that guide the implementation of systemic health programs and policies can reduce the prevalence of health risk behaviors among young people and have a positive effect on academic performance. 

Model Wellness Policies, Practices, & Assessments

Missouri School Board Association (MSBA)

Missouri Consultants for Education (MCE)

Alliance for a Healthier Generation (AHG)

School Assessments and Planning Guides


Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC)

The Whole Child

School's, health agencies, parents and communities share a common goal of supporting the health and academic achievement of adolescents. Research shows that the health of students is linked to their academic achievement.  Schools are recognized as a perfect setting for this collaboration and most efficient for providing health services and programs to children and youth, as approximately 95 percent of all U.S. children and youth attend school. The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model emphasizes a systems approach that works together integrating health services and programs more deeply into the day-to-day life of schools and students to raise academic achievement and improve learning. To learn more visit:


Health & Physical Education

Health Education

Health education provides students with experiences and opportunities to acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary for making health-promoting decisions, achieving health literacy, adopting health-enhancing behaviors, and promoting the health of others. Comprehensive school health education includes curricula  for students in pre-K through grade 12 that address a variety of topics such as alcohol and other drug use and abuse, healthy eating/nutrition, mental and emotional health, personal health and wellness, physical activity, safety and injury prevention, sexual health, tobacco use, and violence prevention. Health education curricula and instruction should address the National Health Education Standards (NHES) and incorporate the characteristics of an effective health education curriculum. 

Physical Education

Physical Education should not be confused with physical activity: Understanding the Difference (SHAPE America)

Physical education is a school-based instructional opportunity for students to gain the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviors for lifelong participation in physical activity. Physical education is characterized by a planned, sequential K-12 curriculum (course of study) provides cognitive content and learning experiences in a variety of activities.

Quality physical education programs assist students in achieving the national standards for K-12 physical education. The outcome of a quality physical education program is a physically educated person who has the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. Qualified, trained teachers teach physical education.

Physical Activity

Physical activity is bodily movement of any type and may include recreational, fitness and sport activities such as jumping rope, playing soccer, lifting weights, as well as daily activities such as walking to the store, taking the stairs or raking the leaves. 

Opportunities to accumulate physical activity during the school day include time spent in physical education class, classroom-based movement, recess, walking or biking to school, and recreational sport and play that occurs before, during, and after school.

Benefits of regular physical activity:

  • Helps build and maintain healthy bones and muscles.
  • Helps reduce the risk of developing obesity and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colon cancer.
  • Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety and promotes psychological well-being.
  • May help improve students’ academic performance, including:
    • Academic achievement and grades
    • Academic behavior, such as time on task
    • Factors that influence academic achievement, such as concentration and attentiveness in the classroom

Physical Activity Resources

Click here for more information from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Physical Activity in the Classroom

Classroom brain breaks are research-based and their efficacy has been scientifically proven. Brain Breaks are a quick and effective way of changing or focusing the physical and mental state of the learners in your group. They are a useful tool to use to help activate, energize and stimulate the brain that improves students’ concentration and relieve stress. The most effective brain breaks incorporate some level of physical movement in order to stimulate neurological pathways and help both hemispheres of the brain work together.  Students should have a kinesthetic brain break every 25-30 minutes. Brain break activities do take about 1-3 minutes of class time to complete; however, the efficiency of our students goes up when brain breaks are incorporated. Brain breaks are refreshing for both students and teachers. 

Physical Activity – Recess


Nutrition Environment and Services

Schools should provide access to a variety of nutritious and appealing meals that accommodate the health and nutrition needs of all students. School nutrition programs reflect the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and other criteria to achieve nutrition integrity. The school nutrition services offer students a learning laboratory for classroom nutrition and health education, and serve as a resource for linkages with nutrition-related community services. Qualified child nutrition professionals provide these services.

Employee Wellness and Health Promotion

Schools can provide opportunities for school staff members to improve their health status through activities such as health assessments, health education, and health-related fitness activities. These opportunities encourage staff members to pursue a healthy lifestyle that contributes to their improved health status, improved morale, and a greater personal commitment to the school's overall coordinated health program. This personal commitment often transfers into greater commitment to the health of students and creates positive role modeling. Health promotion activities have improved productivity, decreased absenteeism, and reduced health insurance costs.

School Health, Counseling, Psychological, and Social Services

Health Services

These services are designed to ensure access or referral to primary health care services or both, foster appropriate use of primary health care services, prevent and control communicable disease and other health problems, provide emergency care for illness or injury, promote and provide optimum sanitary conditions for a safe school facility and school environment, and provide educational and counseling opportunities for promoting and maintaining individual, family, and community health. Qualified professionals such as physicians, nurses, dentists, health educators, and other allied health personnel provide these services.

Counseling, Psychological, and Social Services

These services are provided to improve students’ mental, emotional, and social health and include individual and group assessments, interventions, and referrals. Organizational assessment and consultation skills of counselors and psychologists contribute not only to the health of students but also to the health of the school environment. Professionals such as certified school counselors, psychologists, and social workers provide these services.

School-Based Health

Physical Environment & Social-Emotional Climate

Physical Environment

A healthy and safe physical school environment promotes learning by ensuring the health and safety of students and staff. The physical school environment encompasses the school building and its contents, the land on which the school is located, and the area surrounding it. A healthy school environment addresses any biological or chemical agents that are detrimental to health, as well as the physical conditions such as temperature, noise, lighting or any other physical threats to protect all occupants.

Social and Emotional Climate

School climate refers to the psychosocial aspects of students’ educational experience that influences their social and emotional development. The climate of a school can impact student engagement in school activities; relationships with other students, staff, family, and community; and academic performance. A positive social and emotional school climate is a supportive learning environment that promotes health, growth, and development.

Missouri Green Schools (MGS) 

Family & Community Engagement

Family Engagement

An integrated school and parent approach can enhance the health and well-being of students. Schools actively solicit parent involvement to respond more effectively to the health-related needs of students.

Community Involvement

School health advisory councils, coalitions, and broadly based constituencies for school health can build support for school health program efforts.  Community based efforts also engage resources and services within schools.

State Health Data

Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS)

The Missouri Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is conducted as part of a national effort by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) to monitor students’ health-risk behaviors in six priority areas. These six areas include injury and violence, alcohol and drug use, tobacco use, nutrition, physical activity, and sexual risk behaviors. These risk behaviors contribute to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults in the U.S.

​Missouri has been administering the YRBS since 1995. The survey is voluntary and is administered to a randomly selected sample of middle and high school students across the state.

For more information regarding the YRBS and for national, state, and large city survey results, please visit the CDC website.

Following are the results from the 2017 Missouri High School YRBS followed by the 2015 Middle and High School YRBS and Youth Tobacco Survey.​

School Health Profiles

The School Health Profiles (Profiles) is a system of surveys developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to assess school health policies and programs in states and large urban school districts. The Profiles survey is conducted in Missouri biennially among middle and high school principals and lead health education teachers.

Profiles monitor the current status of:

  • School health education requirements and content
  • Physical education requirements
  • Health services
  • Nutrition-related policies and practices
  • Family and community involvement in school health programs
  • School health policies on HIV and AIDS prevention, tobacco-use prevention, violence prevention, and physical activity
  • Professional preparation and staff development for lead health education teachers

Profiles data is used to:

  • Compare school health policies and programs across the state
  • Identify health education topics and skills that are taught
  • Identify topics for staff development
  • Improve school health programs and policies
  • Determine how well schools address the health and safety needs of their students

The following are the results from the 2016 School Health Profiles.

To access more information on School Health Profiles released, click here

Use the links below to access state data:

MHS Team and Services

MHS In Action

MHSSS Professional Development, Trainings, & Technical Assistance

A wide variety of professional development opportunities covering a variety of topics and concentrations are available for P-12 educators looking to refine and advance their practice. Professional development experiences come in many forms. See below for an assortment of offerings.

2019-2020 School Year


November 8-10, 2019 - The Lodge of Four Seasons, Lake Ozark, MO
Registration and details can be found at: https://www.moahperd.org/events/convention/ 


The Quality Health & Physical Education professional learning sessions are sponsored in a collaboration between the Missouri Regional Professional Development Centers (RPDCs) and MOAHPERD.  A statement describing the content and objectives for this series of sessions will be added early in the fall of 2018. Registration and details can be found at: https://www.moahperd.org/events/workshops/


December 5-7, 2019 - Stoney Creek Inn, Columbia, MO
More information can be found at:  http://www.healthykidsmo.org/ 


October 2-4, 2019 - Hyatt Regency in Cincinnati, Ohio
Registration and details can be found at: http://www.ashaweb.org/news-events/2019-school-health-conference/


April 21-25. 2020 - Salt Lake City, Utah
More information about this conference can be found at: https://convention.shapeamerica.org/