How to Start a School Wellness Program

Three Simple Steps to Follow

Yay, I am so glad you are interested in empowering your students to thrive! In this post, we chat about how to start a school wellness program. Let's go...


Step 1: Educate the Village 


It takes a village, so start by educating the village. Begin by introducing the idea of total health to your co-workers. This article is a great example of how thriving comes from balance and not simply from excelling in a few areas of life.

Next, take time to talk about how wellness (a.k.a. health and happiness) is a wheel (click download activity). Within the wellness wheel model, each wedge represents an element of health. The more balanced (thriving) we are in each area, the better the wheel rolls. The opposite is also true and the wheel becomes dysfunctional we are unbalanced (surviving).


*Take the wellness wheel to the next level by having teachers also fill one out for their most challenging student. 


Wellness Wheel, Components of Health, Components of Wellness, What is Health, What is Wellness, Project School Wellness, Janelle Kay

Wellness Wheel Examples


Step 2: Take Inventory


Building on the interest of the wheel, it's time to learn about each component of health (⇓). As teachers understand each component, the team can use this chart to discuss opportunities to strengthen wellness at school. Due to the multidimensional nature of health and happiness, you are most likely already touching on each component throughout the school experience. Therefore the real challenge isn’t in creating activities, it is in identifying and classifying what you are already doing and attaching common language to it under the umbrella of wellness.


Step 3: Educate Students


With those few steps (in just a few hours) completed, it's time to start educating the students. This is the point when teachers tend to get antsy. But don't worry this doesn't require any instruction time outside of the health and P.E. classroom! Since HPE teachers should already be teaching health, it's simply a shift in how health is approached and taught.

The PE Paradigm Shift 

Health has traditionally been taught as a two or three-week unit within a physical education course. And for the most part, health has only highlighted physical health, failing to teach a total health model (video above⇑).


In contrast, I use a multidimensional approach to teaching health and students have two dedicated health classes a month. Throughout the year, students learn about each component and why it’s important.  They understand how to strengthen each area of life, and see how the components work together and influence one another.


Additionally, students develop a common language and learn how to identify elements of health beyond the classroom. It is this common language and understanding that empowers teachers and students to connect the dots. Together they see how each aspect of life (and school) plays a vitally important role in our well-being. 

Ta-dah, with the completion of step three, you have yourself a school wellness program. See, that wasn't too hard:) Now it's time to get to work!


How to Start a School Wellness Program


Need lesson plans for your next class?

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Hello. I'm  Janelle!

A middle school health teacher turned curriculum developer (and #WAHM). I'm on a mission to share the easiest-to-teach, most impactful health lesson plans on the Internet. Because your time and energy is better spent on teaching and connecting, not on planning and prep.