teacher and kids in a classroom
Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools logo

Improving health in schools is one of the best ways to support the communities we serve. That’s why we’re committed to Thriving Schools, a broad national health effort for K-12 schools. At Kaiser Permanente we:

  • Listen and ask questions, rather than assume what challenges and opportunities schools have
  • Make real-time evaluations of current needs and strengths identified by community organizations
  • Tackle the biggest needs and address opportunities where we can have the greatest positive impact
  • Share what we learn

Environmental scan: mental health and wellness in Washington's K-12 schools.
Recently we commissioned an environmental scan of mental health and wellness in K-12 schools in Washington. The scan helps us and other community organizations better understand current needs and opportunities. It also informs the next phase of our work supporting the health of students, teachers and staff. We invite anyone interested in this topic to listen to our April 2018 webinar about the scan or to read the summary or full report.

Using the scan as a starting point, we’re organizing how we engage with like-minded organizations to help:

  • Improve health and wellness of students, teachers, and staff
  • Increase staff and student access to mental health resources
  • Reduce student suspensions and improve attendance and academic outcomes
  • Enact and sustain policies and best-practices helping build more resilience for students, teachers and staff

We invest in multiple projects, programs and collaborative efforts to help school communities be as healthy as they can. In addition to the programs noted below, we’re working across systems to create scalable support and resources.


School-based programs

Our school programs below aim to increase the number of students who use mental health resources. They help reduce student suspensions, and improve attendance and academic outcomes. They also reduce stress levels and job turnover for teachers and other staff members.

Educational Theatre program
teens acting in a playWe’ve teamed up with Seattle Children’s Theatre to bring the power of educational theatre to schools and address current topics that impact health.

Our first production focuses on how bullying and aggression can lead to damaged self-esteem and depression. The play gives young people tools and strategies to cope with and avoid bullying. This program was shared with more than 18,000 students in King, Pierce, Kitsap, Snohomish, Spokane, and Whitman counties during the 2017-2018 school year. For 2018-2019, the play will expand to additional schools in these counties and schools in Yakima.

Next up for 2018-2019 is a play to help build awareness and reduce stigma around mental health issues.

Read more about our Educational Theatre program.

School-based health clinics
Kaiser Permanente supports school-based health clinics in many of the communities we serve. These clinics play a critical role for the overall health of kids, their families, and school employees.

Giving kids easy access to the health care they need in a safe, confidential school space results in more successful outcomes in their health and in school. It also helps us contribute to a healthy school culture, by encouraging social, emotional wellness, and healthy eating and active living behaviors.

The program provided nearly $1 million in care for over 7,500 students at 8 schools in Seattle in 2017.

Buddy Benches
When kids feel included and socially connected, it helps them stay healthy. Kaiser Permanente Washington is honored to help make school playgrounds a positive, supportive, safe place with the Buddy Bench Program.

Kids are taught to go to the bench when they don’t have someone to play with, when they feel lonely or isolated, or if they need a friend to talk to. Kids are also taught to keep an eye out for kids who sit on the bench. It’s their cue that someone needs a friend.

We’re providing 30 benches to schools in the Spokane area during the 2017–2018 school year.

Alliance for a Healthier Generation
The Alliance teams up with schools and communities to improve environments that foster healthy eating and active living.

Our strong collaboration with the Alliance aims to reduce childhood obesity and empower kids to develop lifelong, healthy habits through the Healthy Schools Program.

The program offers schools targeted resources and support to implement changes. The goal is to increase student access to nutritious food and physical activity. A regional program manager provides customized support depending on school and staff needs. This includes intensive on-site or virtual professional development trainings, consultation and coaching, and access to tools and resources for school nutrition, physical activity and education, plus student and staff wellness.

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