by the American School Health Association, the guidelines provide an operational set of practices and outcomes that may serve local school districts as the basis for developing needs assessment tools, defining staff development needs, improving program planning and evaluating the efficacy of local comprehensive school health programs. The guidelines are descriptive rather than prescriptive. They will be re-examined periodically by the ASHA Board of Directors and updated as appropriate.

—Rosemary K. Gerrans

Past President

American School Health Association


The health and well-being of children and youth must be a fundamental value of society. Urgent health and social problems have underscored the need for collaboration among families, schools, agencies, communities and governments in taking a comprehensive approach to school-based health promotion.

Health scientists have established that 50 percent of premature illness, injury and death is due to an unhealthy lifestyle. Experience and research evidence suggest that a comprehensive school health approach can improve the health-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of students.

It is also recognized, however, that other major determinants of health status such as genetics, the health care delivery system and socioeconomic, cultural and environmental factors require a multifaceted approach to the maintenance and improvement of health status.

A comprehensive school health approach includes a broad spectrum of activities and services which take place in schools and their surrounding communities that enable children and youth to enhance their health, develop to their fullest potential and establish productive and satisfying relationships in their present and future lives. The goals of a comprehensive approach are to:

  • promote health and wellness.

  • prevent specific diseases, disorders and injury.

  • prevent high risk social behaviors.

  • intervene to assist children and youth who are in need or at risk.

  • help support those who are already exhibiting special health care needs.

  • promote positive health and safety behaviors.

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