Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Program (NUPAO):
School Wellness Policies
- What are School Health Advisory Councils?
- Who should be on a School Health Advisory Council?
- How can a School Health Advisory Council help my school?
- How do I start a School Health Advisory Council?
- What are some additional School Health Advisory Council resources?
What are School Health Advisory Councils?
A School Health Advisory Council (SHAC), sometimes called a School Health Team, is a group of individuals who represent both the school and the community. This group acts collectively to provide advice to the school system on aspects of the school health policies and programs. SHACs can advise both a local education agency (district) or an individual school site (elementary, middle, or high school).
Who should be on a School Health Advisory Council?
Membership on your school health council should be a diverse representation of your community. Involve people with a broad variety of education, experience, opinion, economic level, gender, race, age, and ethnic background. Keep in mind the Eight Components of a Coordinated School Health Program and include representation from these areas on your School Health Advisory Council. Suggested council members include:
Within Your Community
- Medical Professionals
- Social Service Agencies
- Volunteer Health Agencies
- Churches/Synagogues/Faith Community
- Public Health Agencies
- Civic and Service Organizations
- Public Media
- Attorneys and Law Enforcement Officials
- Professional Societies
- Government Officials
Within Your School
- School Counselor, Social worker, or Psychologist
- School Nurse
- Food Service Director/Worker
- School Health Coordinator/Health Curriculum Supervisor
- Safe and Drug Free Schools Coordinator/Drug Prevention Specialist
- Physical Education Teacher/Coach
- Health Education Teacher
- School Principal
- School Board Member
- Student Government Representative
Schools alone cannot be responsible for the health and wellbeing of children and youth in their communities, but they play an important role. By creating a School Health Advisory Council, schools can find partners in their communities to help garner support and resources for healthy school policies and programs. SHACs can advise on: district wellness policies, program planning, fiscal planning, education, evaluation, accountability and advocacy for coordinated school health.
How do I start a School Health Advisory Council?
1) Find out if your school has a School Health Advisory Council or other health focused work group and join.
2) If your school does not have an existing health council, start one. Here are some ideas to get started:
- Get administrative support
- Encourage your district superintendent or school principal to create a School Health Advisory Council.
- Find a coordinator for the council
- The coordinator prepares meeting announcements, makes copies of agendas and other handouts, reminds council members of their assignments, reserves locations for meetings, and other tasks that keep the council running smoothly.
- The coordinator may be school staff appointed by the administrator or a community member. It can also be a shared role.
- Identify potential members for the council
- Ask community service providers, principals, counselors, and teachers to recommend potential council members from the community and school.
- Invite potential members to attend the first meeting
- Set a date, time and place for the meeting keeping in mind parking, accessibility and potential scheduling conflicts.
- Send invitations motivating members to learn more about School Health Advisory Councils at least 4 weeks prior to your meeting.
- Place an announcement in school newsletters to parents and post meeting announcements in other community agencies, such as the library.
- Plan the agenda
- Conduct the meeting
- Make an agenda to help stay on track and on time.
- Include discussion of completing the CDC's School Health Index to assess current health related programs and policies.
- Have sign-in sheets, name tags, and other resources you decide to use.
- Schedule the next meeting
- School Health Advisory Councils are encouraged to meet at least four times per school year.
What are some additional School Health Advisory Council resources?
- Make a Difference at Your School (CDC)
- Working Example: Public Schools of North Carolina
- School Health Councils – Basic School Health Council Role and Function (American Cancer Society)
- 5 Simple Steps to Success (Let's Move)