The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is working with the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) to meet the needs of the whole child and provide a well-rounded education for all public school students.
This year, DOH is providing a competitive award up to $5,000 per school to 27 schools statewide that completed an application and showed a demonstrated commitment to the whole child and well-rounded education, as described by the HIDOE wellness guidelines, which establish standards for foods and beverages on campus, health and physical education, and overall wellness.
Applications for the financial incentive had to be completed collectively by the school's wellness committee in order to broaden and strengthen support for achievement of the guidelines. Schools will be able to use the DOH awards on school wellness-related programs, including community outreach and education campaigns for students, families and staff. The funds may also be used to purchase equipment or technology to support health education or physical education.
"Our students' well-being and health play major roles in their readiness to learn," said Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto. "Teaching about wellness and encouraging healthy habits at an early age allow our students to develop these important life skills and continue using them even after high school."
Research has shown that policies like the wellness guidelines contribute to academic achievement as well as overall student health and wellness. Supporting whole-child and well-rounded education aligns with the DOH's student health goals and the HIDOE Strategic Plan.
"Whole-child education means that each and every child deserves to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged," said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. "Part of providing a well-rounded education includes health and physical education classes, as well as educational activities about nutrition and healthy eating."
The HIDOE wellness guidelines were updated in March 2017 for the first time in 10 years, to meet requirements of the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and in response to stakeholder feedback. The new guidelines take effect in all public K-12 public schools during the school year.
HIDOE and DOH have been working together since 2007 to encourage schools to meet the HIDOE wellness guidelines.
School scores on the Safety and Wellness Survey (SAWS), which measures schools' implementation of the wellness guidelines, have gone up consistently each year since 2010. Last year, the average score was 85 percent. DOH will provide "Excellence in Wellness" banners to 110 schools who achieved 90 percent or more of the guidelines during last school year to commemorate their accomplishment.
"We commend our State's public schools for their efforts towards implementation of the wellness guidelines," said Dr. Pressler. "More schools will proudly display wellness banners this year than ever before, meaning that principals and administrators clearly understand that providing a healthy environment fosters academic achievement as well as lifelong healthy habits."
To view the SAWS results, please click
For more information on the current HIDOE wellness guidelines, please click