Alecia Sanchez, policy director for the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, visited Bradley County Schools Thursday to see the program in action, after the school district was suggested by the state for a visit.
“Our focus has traditionally been on childhood obesity, so we’re very interested to see the ... modeling of success that has happened here,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said some schools in California are using the program, but she hopes to see the program expand and become more unified, as it has in Tennessee. Tennessee is the only state that has legislated requirements for CSH to be implemented statewide.
“Tennessee, from our national perspective (at Save the Children) is a gold standard in implementing this model,” Hansen said.
Tennessee is also the only state that has district level directors of the program, according to Clark Hansen of Save the Children, which has been working with the California group.
“We are working to educate policy makers and schools about the importance of student health, and so having them to appreciate and implement Coordinated School Health in their own school districts across the state (California) would be really valuable,” Sanchez said.
Hansen said the goal of the visit was to see the program in operation and use the information in future lobbying.
“We are trying to build some pilots that kind of replicate the success that you have had here in Tennessee,” Hansen said.
Right now that plan is in the information gathering phase.
The Bradley County CSH team took the California visitors on a tour of Black Fox, Taylor and Waterville elementary schools as well as Lake Forest Middle School and Bradley Central High School. At Taylor Elementary, students can arrive at school at 7:15 a.m. to participate in physical activity before school. Principal Sherry Shroyer said students will walk on the school’s track if it is bright enough outside. If not, students can walk and exercise in the gym.
“All of the influx of equipment is just really impressive and seeing the students actually participating and enjoying themselves has been really great as well,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said seeing employee dedication in collaborating with the program has also been helpful.
The portion of the program that Sanchez was most interested was how Bradley County tracked and used data.
“The data is really a point of interest for me in particular because it’s hard to advocate for things that you can’t explain,” Sanchez said.
The data from the Tennessee program may help her better explain the success of the program and why it is needed statewide in California, Sanchez said.
Bradley County Coordinated School Health director Andrea Lockerby said school districts across the state use the same method of collecting information within the program.
“We’re in the process of connecting that data with our student performance data,” Lockerby said.
Data collected from the program drives the plan for the next year, according to Lockerby.
Lockerby said the group also participated in a conference call with the policy adviser to the California state education superintendent about how data is collected and used in the program.
The Coordinated School Health program is a holistic approach to student health focusing not only on exercise, but nutrition and how it affects student performance.