Over the past few years, Arkansas has emerged as a leader in implementing Coordinated School Health programs. Across the state Coordinated School Health is growing and districts are building school level health teams. With the help of ACT 1220 of 2003, district wellness committees are required to assess at the building and district level utilizing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's School Health Index. The School Health Index results are used to implement the Wellness Priority within their Arkansas Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (ACSIP).
Given this growing level of interest in Coordinated School Health in Arkansas, permission was given to use the Roadmap to Healthy Schools; The Colorado Model by the Centers for Research Strategies, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Rocky Mountain Center for Health Promotion and Education, and adapt it for Arkansas. A multiagency team, which includes staff from the Arkansas Department of Education, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, and Arkansas Center for Health Improvement was charged with adapting the document for Arkansas. Our goal was to have a step by step guide for schools that is user-friendly, based on best practices, and grounded in our collective experience in Arkansas.
The newly created Arkansas Coordinated School Health document, adapted from the Colorado Roadmap document, includes resource links as well as tools for planning, documenting team processes, evaluating progress and describing successes. The School Health Index is used as a foundation for developing a school health improvement plan to use for the Wellness Priority in the Arkansas Comprehensive School Improvement Plan. This document is built around four distinct phases:
1) Establishing a Coordinated School Health program in your district/school building
2) Developing a school health improvement plan for the wellness priority
3) Implementing the school health improvement plan for the wellness priority
4) Institutionalizing Coordinated School Health
Each phase includes specific steps in a recommended sequence, and a checklist to determine when the step has been completed. The completion of each step can be viewed as an endpoint unto itself. From that perspective, each step and each phase represents a level of realized success, with step four, institutionalization, representing the highest level of success where teams are able to report outcomes.
Arkansas Coordinated School Health would like to thank the Centers for Research Strategies, the Colorado Department of Education, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Rocky Mountain Center for Health Promotion and Education, for permission to adapt this document to use in Arkansas.