Despite widespread knowledge of the benefits of wellness practices among young people, sedentary lifestyles and worsening nutrition are contributing to early signs of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity in children. Physical education, historically one of the most readily available outlets for physical activity among youths, has been marginalized in the wake of legislation mandating greater accountability in academic achievement. This qualitative case study examined exemplary wellness models in elementary and secondary school settings that were implemented to meet the needs of students and staff. Data included on-site interviews with administrators, teachers, and community members, program observation, and document analysis pertaining to each of the sites. Several themes emerged, including emphasis on individualized lifetime fitness activities and commitment to development of the whole individual. There were innovative uses of school-community partnerships and cultures of accountability driven by research, technology, and data-accelerating program growth. These were linked to evidence of success, including improved student health and fewer incidents of truancy and other negative behaviors. Also, schools in the study showed improved academic achievement, which was consistent with emerging brain research showing that fitness enhances learning readiness. However, sites shared concerns about sustainability related to leadership continuity, resources, and longitudinal evidence of success.
|Keywords:||Education, School Wellness, Physical Education, Lifetime Fitness, Leadership, School-community Partnerships|
Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership, School of Education, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, USA