School Health & Wellness Institute Focuses on Healthy and Successful Students

Registration is open for the 12th Annual School Health & Wellness Institute (SHWI)!

The Institute will be held October 30 – November 1, 2017, at the BP Energy Center in Anchorage. Registration is free and is required to attend.

This three-day institute is a professional development opportunity providing attendees with knowledge, skills and resources in all aspects of student and school health. Sessions include nutrition, physical activity, social and emotional learning, mental health, internet safety, trauma-informed schools, youth risk behaviors, current substance abuse issues including opioids and marijuana, school environmental health, and more.

The 2017 SHWI begins Monday, October 30, with four preconference sessions (check the website for some preconference requirements). The conference continues Tuesday, October 31, with six plenary sessions, and Wednesday, November 1, with 15 breakout presentations. A full agenda can be found here.

The Institute began in 2006 as a collaboration between the Departments of Education and Early Development and Health and Social Services to provide school staff with the skills and resources to develop local school district wellness policies as required by a new federal regulation. More than a decade later, the Institute is still a collaboration of the two departments and continues to offer sessions on wellness policies. However, it has grown over the years in both scope and attendance. To support the attendance of educators from rural parts of Alaska (where travel costs often hinder the ability to attend), the Institute offers travel scholarships via a competitive application process.

“Since the beginning of the Institute, the underlying core message has always been that healthier students do better academically. Healthier students are better learners, and when children spend most of their waking hours at school, their health and well-being is a very important component of their education,” said Wendy Hamilton, School Health Program Manager.

Ty Oehrtman, vice president of the American School Health Association board of directors, will be presenting at this year’s Institute on the healthy schools model from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC). Physical activity and healthy nutrition are two important components of the WSCC model and several breakout presentations address those topics: Healthy Drinks for Healthy Kids, The Importance of Physical Activity in Our Schools, Get Some STEAM Out of Recess, and New Initiatives in Child Nutrition.

A yearly Institute favorite, School Health Success Stories, includes a panel of professionals sharing inspiring examples of how school health is succeeding around the state. Anyone can submit a School Health Success Story nomination form for themselves or someone else. Professionals selected to present their success story are awarded a travel scholarship to support their attendance at the SHWI.

Conference attendees include teachers, school nurses, school administrators, community health and education professionals, school counselors and anyone working with school or student health. Contact Wendy Hamilton, School Health Program Manager, at or 465-2768 for more information.