The Importance of School-Based Healthy Living Initiatives: Introducing the Health and Wellness Academy Concept
journal contributionposted on 01.06.2019, 00:00 authored by Lindsey Strieter, Deepika R Laddu, Jenna Sainsbury, Ross Arena
Over the last 15 years, the number of school and community based health-intervention programs in the United States has grown. Many of these programs aim to prevent non-communicable chronic disease diagnoses (e.g., obesity, cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes). The Department of Physical Therapy in the College of Applied Health Sciences (CAHS) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) created a school-based wellness program (SBWP) that focuses on nutrition and physical activity, providing tailored experiences that motivate adolescents to make healthier lifestyle choices. The SBWP began as a camp for children in the surrounding neighborhoods and implemented healthy living practices utilizing students from Departments in the CAHS. From this camp, the Health and Wellness Academy (HWA) evolved. This paper provides a review of school-based initiatives and introduces the UIC HWA, an innovative and reproducible approach that can bring positive environmental change by improving health outcomes for children and their families.