After speaking with some new co-workers the other day, it dawned on me that not everyone knows what a “SHAC” is. That’s SHAC not SHAQ. I do believe everyone knows what a SHAQ is – that excessively large athlete who played basketball in size 22 shoes. A SHAC on the other hand is a School Health Advisory Council and something that is required by law in Texas. Every independent school system in Texas must have a district SHAC and the majority of members must be parents who are not employed by the school district.
The law has definitely evolved over time. Changes have been made along the way, but the main focus has remained the same – provide healthy school environments for students, staff and community members and teach and promote wellness through healthy lifestyles.
- So aside from parents, who should be on a district SHAC? Many different people! Consider community organizations, law enforcement, local businesses, and universities, especially those who are health focused. You will also want to have some key district stakeholders including those over the eight areas of coordinated school health. Don’t forget diversity! You want to have parents from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
- What can a SHAC do? SHACs can survey the needs of the district and make recommendations to the school board around health and wellness. Because there is a parent voice represented at the SHAC, it is easy to gather a list of needs and develop goals around those areas. It is recommended that members join subcommittees for each of areas of coordinated school health and those subcommittees tackle a goal for the school year. These goals can be focused on mental health programs, physical education programs, nutrition programs, and many others.
- Do you have a SHAC in your school district? If you live in Texas, you should! If you are unsure you can contact your district and ask – often times they exist but are poorly advertised. Want to get involved? Great! Usually SHACs are looking for new members, especially parents. So if you are looking for a way to get involved with the health and wellness of your child’s school or your community, consider joining!
Today we feature Guest Blogger Stephanie Kellam, who is the Coordinator of Health and PE at Fort Bend Independent School District (FBISD) in Texas. She promotes fitness and nutrition-related wellness initiatives throughout FBISD by partnering with community organizations and school nurses, teachers, and administration to help educate children and their parents about the importance of developing lifelong healthy habits.