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Prev Chronic Dis. 2014 Mar 6;11:E34. doi: 10.5888/pcd11.130149.

Engaging communities to develop and sustain comprehensive wellness policies: Louisiana's schools putting prevention to work.

Author information

1
Pennington Biomedical Research Center, 6400 Perkins Rd, Baton Rouge, LA 70808-4124. E-mail: elizabeth.gollub@pbrc.edu.
2
Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
3
Louisiana Tobacco Control Program, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Tobacco use, obesity, and physical inactivity among Louisiana's youth pose a serious public health problem. Given the potential of school environments to affect student well-being, the Louisiana Tobacco Control Program developed and tested a pilot program, Schools Putting Prevention to Work. The objective was to assist school districts in developing a comprehensive school wellness policy and engaging their school community to generate environments that support healthful choices and behaviors.

COMMUNITY CONTEXT:

The pilot was implemented in 27 school districts, reaching an estimated 325,000 people across the state. Demographics of participating students were similar to all Louisiana's public school students.

METHODS:

A school wellness project state team advised project development. A subgroup that included contractors and partners implemented and modified the pilot. Sites were selected though an application process. Site representatives received trainings, technical assistance, and funding to organize school-based support-building activities and coordinate a school health advisory council to develop policy and sustain healthy school environments. Project sites reported progress monthly; evaluation included data from sites and project administrators.

OUTCOME:

Twenty-five comprehensive school wellness policies (covering 100% tobacco-free schools and daily physical activity and healthier cafeteria items) were approved by school boards. Environmental changes such as physical activity breaks, healthier vending options, and tobacco-free campuses were adopted.

INTERPRETATION:

This pilot demonstrated a successful approach to achieving policy and environmental change. The state team engaged and guided school districts to motivate students, parents, faculty/staff/administration, and businesses to establish and maintain opportunities to improve lifestyle health.

PMID:
24602588
PMCID:
PMC3945076
DOI:
10.5888/pcd11.130149
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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