SWITCH (School Wellness Integration Targeting Child Health) evolved from an evidence-based intervention called 'Switch' that was designed to help with youth obesity prevention. The program capitalized on the coordinating structure and motivation provided through schools, but also targeted the home environment since families exert a direct and long-term impact on lifestyle. The original Switch intervention targeted three distinct behaviors known to impact obesity (i.e., physical activity (PA), screen time and fruit and vegetable consumption (FV)) in a creative way by challenging children to “switch what they do, view and chew”.

The Switch programming time was originally coordinated in collaboration with YMCA leaders that largely worked through schools to carry out the programming. To promote broader adoption we determined that we needed to more effectively engage and empower school leaders to take ownership of the programming. Through a USDA-funded project, we developed and evaluated modules and training methods to facilitate more effective adoption in schools. The underlying principles and themes were retained in the re-branded version but the focus shifted to helping schools to more effectively operationalize and sustain their own school wellness programming. This was an important philosophical and strategic shift since the SWITCH intervention essentially evolved from a school based intervention conducted through schools to a school wellness training system provided for schools. 

Through a series of studies, we developed and refined a standardized implementation process that helps put schools in charge of their own programming. Thus, schools are guided and supported to independently plan, manage, evaluate and refine school wellness programming. Schools are provided with resources, training and support, but have autonomy to run programming in ways that best fit their unique needs and goals. 

Additional information and links to reseach briefs are provided in a separate section.