The SNAP-Ed Toolkit is moving!

The Toolkit and its resources, including evidence-based interventions and the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, will soon be housed within the SNAP-Ed Connection website. Please look for future communication regarding that transition. Thanks. — The Toolkit Team

Alliance for a Healthier Generation (Healthier Generation)

Alliance for a Healthier Generation

Overview

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation (Healthier Generation) supports school and district leaders in creating and sustaining healthy schools where students – especially those from underserved communities – can thrive. 

Healthier Generation is a PSE intervention designed to create healthier school environments for students and staff. It is among the nation’s largest school-based programs improving whole child health, addressing multiple factors that lead to inadequate health and life outcomes – from physical activity (PA) and nutrition to social and emotional health and tobacco/vaping prevention. Healthier Generation leads school and district staff through the following 6 step continuous improvement process: 1) convene a School or District Wellness Committee, 2) assess the school health environment using the Thriving Schools Integrated Assessment (TSIA), 3) develop an action plan tailored to school or district priorities based on what is important and achievable, 4) explore Healthier Generation resources and tools, 5) take action to implement the plan and achieve school or district goals 6) celebrate success and monitor progress. Healthier Generation facilitates the development of partnerships during step one and provides support to schools to implement evidence-based policies and practices related to nutrition and PA. Schools document their need and readiness for change in step two by completing the TSIA. The sixth step addresses program recognition by celebrating schools’ success through Healthier Generation’s national recognition program.  

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity

Intervention Type: PSE Change

Intervention Reach and Adoption

Healthier Generation targets students and their families/caregivers in K-12 schools that serve mainly high-need student populations. To date, 53,000 schools, districts and out-of-school time sites and more than 31 million students have benefited from Healthier Generation’s resources, tools, training, and technical assistance. The participatory method of implementing the 6-step process can be adapted to meet schools where they are in the change process. 

Setting: School (Learn), Worksite (Work) 

Setting: School (Learn), Worksite (Work)

Target Audience: Preschool (<5 years), Elementary School, Middle School, High School, Parents/Mothers/Fathers, Adults

Race/Ethnicity: All

Intervention Components

Healthier Generation’s approach includes a 6-step continuous improvement process, an assessment, and an action planning tool. These intervention components provide support to schools and districts implementing evidence-based policies and practices in each are of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model. Healthier Generation provides resources, professional development, and technical assistance to school and district leaders over multiple years. The core workshops are designed to guide school and district staff through the necessary steps to establish and achieve their wellness goals. Each community determines the level of support and the pace of that support. Healthier Generation also administers a national award program, which motivates schools and districts to make progress towards best practices in health and wellness. The 6-step process, described above, integrates the core components of Healthier Generation’s approach and is repeated at least annually. In the first of the six steps, schools or districts form wellness committees. Wellness committees are representative of the school community, and usually include administrators, school health providers, health/physical educators, students, and parents. At each step, school stakeholders take part in decision-making.

Healthier Generation’s approach is rooted in evidence-based best practices for creating school environments that promote learning and support the physical, mental, and social and emotional health of students and staff.  The development of the TSIA was informed by review of existing tools (Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program Assessment and Resilience in Schools Index, CDC’s School Health Index, and the Michigan Healthy Schools Action Tool), primary and secondary literature, feedback from researchers and practitioners, and field testing with school and district stakeholders.  

Intervention Materials

After registering online in the Healthier Generation Action Center at no cost, individuals have access to: 

  • Assessment and action planning tools 
  • Virtual Training Center – on-demand and live trainings focused on evidence-based strategies for creating healthy school environments 
  • Evidence-based school health resources from Healthier Generation and partners 
  • Digital implementation tools such as the Wellness Policy Builder 
  • Blog with success stories from schools across the nation 
  • Member Engagement Support Center  

Healthier Generation’s resources can be found at Alliance for a Healthier Generation website. 

Intervention Costs

Most of Healthier Generation’s assets are available at no cost in our Action Center. Any individual can register on behalf of a school or district at no cost and gain access to the assessment and resources. Individuals who register can also access the Member Engagement Support, comprising individuals who provide real-time support in retrieving Healthier Generation resources and materials and navigating the Healthier Generation website.  

To further support schools and districts in making and sustaining PSE changes, Healthier Generation offers fee-based training and technical assistance tailored to the needs of the implementing organization, which can be offered virtually or onsite by our school health experts.  Healthier Generation also provides fee-based customized services, such as tailored health assessments, aggregated reporting for schools or districts completing assessments, and customization of existing Healthier Generation tools to meet agency or community needs.

Evidence Summary

Several evaluations using key informant interviews and surveys have been conducted to generate knowledge about implementation and user experience. Healthier Generation uses the results of these evaluations to inform continuous improvement of our HSP  tools, delivery, and approach. A 2012 study published in CDC’s Preventing Chronic Disease found that from 2007-2009, schools typically reported making “moderate to large” changes in health-related policies/practices. A companion study found that the amount of training and technical assistance schools received was independently, significantly associated with the number of policy/practice changes made. A  2015 study also published in Preventing Chronic Disease found that meaningful participation with Healthier Generation was linked to reductions in the prevalence of overweight/obesity among students in high-need schools. 

Evidence-based Approach: Research-tested

Evaluation Indicators

Based on the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, the following outcome indicators can be used to evaluate intervention progress and success.

Readiness and Capacity – Short Term (ST) Changes – Medium Term (MT) Effectiveness and Maintenance – Long Term (LT) Population Results (R)
Individual
Environmental Settings ST5, ST7 MT5, MT6 LT5, LT6, LT7
Sectors of Influence
  • ST5b: 76 (70%) case study schools accessed the assessment between 2014 and 2019.
  • ST7a-b: Between 2014 and 2019, 49 (45%) case study schools reported having a representative school health committee or team that met at least 4 times a year and oversaw school health and safety policies and programs.
  • MT5a,f: Between 2014 and 2019, 70 (64%) case study schools made at least one change to a nutrition item on the Healthy Schools Program (HSP) assessment (the precursor to the TSIA). Total enrollment at these schools: 21,950 students. 70 case study schools documented at least one change in writing or practice to expand access or improve appeal for healthy eating. Based on enrollment, an estimated 21,950 students could have encountered these improved environments.
  • MT6a: 52 (48%) case study schools have made at least one change to a PA/physical education (PE) item on the HSP assessment between 2014 and 2019. Through their engagement with HSP, 52 case study schools documented at least one change in writing or practice to expand access or improve appeal for PA.
  • LT5a: 70 (64%) case study schools made at least one change to a nutrition item on the HSP assessment AND staff have received at least one training in nutrition between 2014 and 2019. 70 case study schools documented at least one change in writing or practice to expand access or improve appeal for healthy eating. In these 70 schools, this change was implemented together with staff training on continuous program improvement and policy implementation related to healthy eating and nutrition.
  • LT6a: 52 (48%) case study schools made one change in PA/PE items AND received at least one training in PA between 2014 and 2019. 52 case study schools documented at least one change in writing or practice to expand access or improve appeal for PA. In these 52 schools, this change was implemented together with staff training on continuous program improvement and policy implementation related to PA.
  • LT7a: Between 2014 and 2019, 15 (14%) case study schools received 20 Healthier Generation’s National Healthy Schools Awards.

Evaluation Materials

The process evaluation tool available is the TSIA assessment, an online tool that is a focal point of the 6-step continuous improvement process. Schools are encouraged to update their assessments at least annually to assess progress towards achieving best practices, to realign priorities, and to update their action plans. All schools keep a record of their work in the Action Center. Schools’ assessment responses are stored and made available for them to view, print, and download.

Additional Information

Website: Healthier Generation’s website includes information on their programs, including the TSIA, additional tools, resources, and their blog.

Contact Person(s):
Madeline Moritsch
916-990-1892
madeline.moritsch@healthiergeneration.org

Josephine Thomason
386-569-5448
josephine.thomason@healthiergeneration.org

 

*Updated as of September 11, 2023