The Slovenian Network of Health Promoting Schools has been active for 26 years and has evolved into a stable and well-organized organisation, acknowledging the continued support of the Ministry of Health, which maintains national and regional coordination. The coordinator’s job at each of the nine National Public Health units demonstrates how well structured this organisation is. At working meetings, these coordinators set an annual program, according to international and national guidelines (data from HBSC and other studies, implementing policies regarding children and adolescents, etc.), school setting needs or current issues in the field of children's health. These coordinators are also responsible for connecting local schools into the regional network.
Regional coordinators present to school team leaders and their colleagues the leading themes of a current school year and other topics regarding health education/health promotion that are of interest to health and education teachers and staff. These meetings provide an interesting mixture of networking, lectures, workshops, presentations, exchange of experiences and good practices from health promoting schools. These regular, structured, up to date meetings are one of the important factors in the network. In recent years, themes have included healthy diet, increasing physical activity in classes and leisure time, improving interpersonal relationships and implementing mental health programs in general. In 2020, there will be a specific focus on the more complex subjects of: Education in the Real and Digital World and How Schools Take Measures in the Case of Addiction to the Psychoactive Substances.
The well-established network structure is also reflected in frequent e-mail communication. Important health related information is regularly communicated to school team leaders and their colleagues a by the national and regional coordinators. In 2019, this stream of health information was proven useful when 23 Slovenian teachers contributed with articles to the SHE newsletter highlighting good practice examples in their schools. These teachers were recognised for their additional work (like presentations, lectures, writhing articles, organisation of exhibitions) with the presentation of a professional certificate promoting their professional status.
The example of teacher willingness to write about the health promotion activities in schools is a ‘breath of air’ in relation to this 26-year old network. In 2020, the network is considering producing their own e-newsletter of best practices with the help of public relations, IT and of course teacher participation. This also was the case of the initiative to share good practice examples in a SHE Newsletter. In 2019, not less than 23 Slovene teachers wrote articles in it. Apparently, there is a lot going on in schools and they want to share it in public.
Another reason for a very good response of teachers is that for additional work like presentations, lectures, writhing articles, organisation of exhibitions etc. they are awarded with certificates, so they are promoted in a sense of professional status. Responsive teachers present a fresh wind into our wings to create an e-Newsletter that would replace a printed version of Bulletin from 10 years ago. If our colleagues from public relations and IT will cooperate and teachers will be willing to report on good practice examples, this could be a new, additional engagement planned for 2020.
By Mojca Bevc and Nina Scagnetti, Slovenian Health Promoting Network