The Georgia School Based Health Alliance (GASBHA) received the Hallways to Health grant from Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools Program in the Spring 2013. Three school-based health centers (SBHCs) were selected to participate in the Hallways to Health Program:
- Whitefoord Elementary located in southeast Atlanta
- Lake Forest Elementary located in Sandy Springs
- Turner Elementary located in Albany
Hallways to Health is a collaborative that aims to improve the well-being of students, their families, and school staff by guiding school-based health centers (SBHC) to facilitate programs and policies to prevent and reduce obesity, and address social and emotional health issues. During year one, SBHC staff at the three centers were directed through a process to improve their clinical practices so that they are able to provide the highest-quality of care related to obesity prevention and social and emotional health. They learned how to integrate and increase their involvement in existing or new health promotion efforts in the school and broader community in the areas of physical activity, nutrition, and wellness. The SBHC staff were trained to work in collaboration with students, teachers, and school staff to create an environment where nutrition and wellness programs and activities are available to everyone in the school and positive health messages are reinforced. SBHC staff are able to refer and link students to appropriate treatment options that may be available in the community.
During the first two years of the Hallways to Health initiative, the SBHCs accomplished amazing success implementing staff wellness programs and activities in their respective schools (Biggest Loser Competition, Adult Health Month, Flu Vaccinations, Walking Program, Staff 5K Walk/Run, and Blood Pressure Screening). The SBHCs also implemented obesity prevention interventions to address the needs of students (Youth Wellness Program/Kool Kids, Wellness and Fitness Programs, small group healthy eating and physical activity intervention, and involvement in the Georgia Fitness Assessment activities). The SBHCs addressed social and emotional health issues and counseling within the student population. The SBHCs also promoted parental and caregiver engagement by providing health education information and services related to healthy eating, physical activity, obesity prevention, and addressing their children’s behavioral health issues.
The Georgia SBHCs developed a strategic plan for the Hallways to Health program, which the goals focus on the three aims of the program (obesity prevention, social and emotional wellness, and school employee wellness). Each SBHC focused their year two improvement plans based on the strategic plan to address several key activities such as identifying students to engage in obesity prevention interventions, conducting workshops with students on anti-bullying, substance abuse prevention, and self-esteem, as well as surveying school staff to understand what they would like offered related to staff wellness activities (the SBHCs developed employee wellness programs/activities based on survey results).
The Georgia SBHCs highlighted their year one, year two successes, and year 3 successes and policy or system change accomplishments at the 2014 National Hallways to Health Midpoint Meeting in Seattle, WA (year one), the 2015 National Hallways to Health Endpoint Meeting in Austin, TX (year two), and the 2016 National Hallways to Health Midpoint Meeting in Arlington, VA (year three) respectfully, presenting their storyboard presentations and panel discussions to tell “A year in the life of our SBHC/Hallways to Health Program” and “Policy/Systems change as a result of the Hallways to Health Program”. Presenters from other states participating in the Hallways to Health initiative include Washington State/Oregon, Maryland, and California. Participants received training from School-Based Health Alliance, and Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools staff.
Each of the five states and 13 sites participating in the initiative received an additional two-years of funding for the 2015-2017 academic school years to continue Hallways to Health (now known as Hallways to Health Phase 2, or H2H 2.0). Hallways to Health Phase 2 continues to focus on the three aims of the program (healthy eating/physical activity, social and emotional health, and school employee wellness). Furthermore, Phase 2 of the program consists of strategically planned population health and public health training courses and technical assistance led by American Public Health Association (APHA) in partnership with the School-Based Health Alliance and Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools Program, conducting a school-wide needs assessment, environmental scan, focus group discussions with students and parents, evaluation and reporting of program outcomes and impact, and continued learning collaborative activities. Year four of the program will focus on the continuation of school employee wellness efforts, implementation of the student health wellness plans, and development of sustainability plans.
Each of the three Georgia H2H grantees successfully administer the H2H staff wellness survey in year three to assess the needs of staff in their respective schools and developed their school staff wellness action plans for implementation during the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 academic calendars. Staff wellness activities include continuation of the Biggest Loser Competition, Walking Programs, access to healthier food options in the school cafeteria for school staff. Additional activities for school staff wellness include access to water coolers in the teachers lounge areas, access to Farmers Market during school hours (to accept EBT), meditation and stress management opportunities offered to school staff during school-wide testing periods, yoga, and wellness room available to school staff, as well as the development of a walking track, and providing pedometers for school staff to track steps for walking programs.
H2H grantees successfully implemented the Rapid Assessment for Adolescent Prevention Services (RAAPS) , a school-wide needs assessment (for upper elementary school students in 4th and 5th grades) and developed their student wellness action plans based on the results of the needs assessment with TA and training provided by APHA and the state affiliate from GA, as well as the feedback provided by students and parents during their focus group discussions. Implementation of the student wellness action plans began during the 2016-2017 academic school year for elementary school students and have a school-wide focus to address the needs of students in the area of healthy eating/active living and social and emotional health. The H2H grantees successfully implemented their respective student action plans during the academic year, as well as developed H2H sustainability plans to sustain the upward momentum they have experienced as a result of participating in the H2H program, which will help each SBHC continue to address the health and wellness needs of students, staff, and the community in unique and innovative way to improve health outcomes for years to come.
Hallways to Health website: www.sbh4all.org/hallwaystohealth