APPLE Schools (A Project Promoting healthy Living for Everyone in schools) is an innovative school-focused health promotion initiative. It improves the lives of almost 30,000 students annually in 87 schools across British Columbia, northern Alberta, Northwest Territories, and Manitoba by improving their healthy eating, physical activity, and mental health habits.
Since 2007, APPLE Schools has invested over $25 million in vulnerable student populations to prevent chronic diseases related to childhood overweight and obesity. It is estimated this investment will save over $215 million through avoided future health care costs, improved academic achievement, enhanced mental wellbeing, and better quality of life.
APPLE Schools transforms school communities through an approach called Comprehensive School Health (CSH). CSH empowers school communities to lead, choose and be healthy. Each APPLE School is provided a School Health Facilitator (SHF) trained in nutrition, physical activity, and community development. The SHF works with students, parents, school staff, and community members to develop a school action plan to meet the specific needs of their school.
School action plans include activities led by students and are designed to make healthy living fun and engaging. Examples include planting classroom gardens, after-school cooking classes and physical activity programs.
APPLE Schools equips students with the knowledge necessary to be confident, empathetic leaders and take ownership of their own health and social behaviours.
Research has shown that students in APPLE Schools have better nutrition habits, are more physically active, and are more likely to be a healthy weight than other students across Alberta. They are better learners and score higher on academic tests. These results extend to activity outside of class, and students from all socio-economic backgrounds benefit from APPLE Schools, including many vulnerable communities with high First Nations, Métis, and Inuit populations.
APPLE Schools focuses on data to ensure accountability and drive results. Each school’s action plan is continuously improved based on metrics from the previous year. Data from student pedometers, parent surveys, focus groups and interviews all help assess the success of each school’s plan.
APPLE Schools is shifting the paradigm from treatment of chronic illness and disease to prevention and sustainability. APPLE Schools is a student- centered, cost-effective, evidence-based project that is unique in Canada, giving students positive experiences that translate into a lifetime of healthy living. APPLE Schools has been recognized by the Public Health Agency of Canada on the Canadian Best Practices Portal and by the National Cancer Institute on the Research-tested Intervention Programs website.
Students in APPLE Schools take ownership of their own health and demonstrate:
INCREASED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
IMPROVED DIETARY HABITS
BETTER MENTAL HEALTH
IMPROVEMENTS IN LEARNING OUTCOMES
IMPROVEMENTS IN HEALTH FOR ALL STUDENTS
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
7. Loewen OK, Maximova K, Ekwaru JP, Faught EL, Asbridge M, Ohinmaa A, Veugelers PJ. Lifestyle Behavior and Mental Health in Early Adolescence. Pediatrics. 2019 May;143(5):e20183307. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2018-3307