More than education
The Healthy School concept was developed in the USA and builds on what schools are already doing. The school selects relevant health themes from a range of themes that include health education, school environment, and ways to identify student health problems. The approach is embedded in school policy and the school evaluates its health activities every year. RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment cooperates with national and local partners including Community Health Services and the Education Agenda on Sport, Movement and Healthy Life Style.
Community Health Services advise schools that wish to adopt the Healthy School approach. Organisations, such as the Nutrition Centre, Trimbos Institute, and the Netherlands Institute for Sport and Movement (NISB), develop programmes to be implemented in school classes. For instance, the higher age limit on alcohol consumption was the reason for programmes to make schools alcohol free. Schools can develop their own health activities with financial support from the Healthy School project. For instance, six schools and the Community Health Service are working together in an innovative programme to make children aware of the importance of healthy eating.
The Netherlands is a member of Schools for Health in Europe (SHE), a non-profit organisation that aims to improve the health of children and young people in the European Region and Central Asia. The national coordinators, representatives from 33 countries from Europe and Central Asia, have a main role in supporting health-promoting schools in their countries through contact and dialogue with school authorities, schools and practitioners. RIVM is the national coordinator for the Netherlands.