Wellness 201

Starting on the Path to Wellness

Photo Credit: Armin Rimoldi (Pexels)

Program Overview

Wellness 201: Creating Champions for Wellness is an abbreviated model of the Institute for Wellness Education’s comprehensive, school-wide wellness initiative, Wellness 501: Whole-School Wellness.

Wellness 201 replicates the key features of the whole-school initiative on a smaller scale and gives schools an opportunity to evaluate the positive impact the program has on participants and the wider school community.

This initiative is novel because it harnesses the power of peers. First, it trains student leaders as peer coaches. Then, the coaches conduct group sessions with peers in their grade or students from other grades. The concept for using peers as coaches is well established in the professional literature. Peers have been shown to be as, or more effective than adults in engaging other students in activities that foster social-emotional learning, healthy decision-making, and self-care for teens with chronic conditions.


Program Components

IWE provides the training and PD through interactive online learning activities, live and recorded video- and audio-conferencing, printed, hard-copy workbooks, consultation, and onsite training. Student peer-coaches then lead wellness classes that feature interactive journaling using printed, hard-copy workbooks.

Student Leaders: Wellness Coach Training

  • Licensing fees for a 36-hour online wellness coach training course (up to 15 student peer-coaches)

  • Hardcopy Interactive Journal®

  • Orientation webinar/teleconf (60 mins)

  • Peer-coach Facilitator Guide (downloadable pdf format)

Journal Club Participants: Materials 

  • Hard-copy interactive journal (up to 50 participants)

  • Tips for Teens (downloadable pdf format)

Teachers: Professional Development

  • 2-hour program orientation

  • 2-hour skills training for teacher-facilitators

  • 2-hour follow-up consultation and technical assistance

  • Tips Sheet (downloadable pdf format)


Addressing Your School’s Biggest Problems

Wellness 201 comprises the same eight different units as in Wellness 101. Each is designed to improve Resilience and change behavior by boosting motivation; increasing student readiness; showing student how to harness personal, social, and environmental factors that promote change; strengthening commitment; and building self-efficacy. Scenario-based learning activities give students practice responding to relevant and realistic challenges that are common to today’s teens including stress, bullying, risky behaviors, unhealthy lifestyle practices, and difficult interpersonal relationships.

Each unit features activities to help students answer three questions of their greatest, often unspoken, concern:

  • Who am I?
  • What am I going to do?
  • Am I going to make it?

These questions are relevant to students, because their overall well-being and success depend on students knowing who they are, what they stand for, and how their actions affect their lives and futures. Students’ struggles with these questions are reflected in the common problems schools confront such as debilitating stress, perfectionism, cheating, bullying, incivility, and malicious gossip.

Evidence-Based Methods from NREPP Proven to Help Your Students

Every unit emphasizes practical skills rather than abstract concepts or theories. The strategies, models, and tools taught in the program are evidence-based, listed or adapted from programs in the US National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). They include cognitive-behavioral and solution-focused approaches, positive psychology, personal journaling, and behavior-change models developed by leaders in the field of behavioral science.

Peer-Wellness Groups Facilitate School Climate Change

The execution of Peer-Wellness Groups is the main differentiator between Wellness 101 and Wellness 201. The newly certified Student Wellness Coaches are required to actually lead wellness groups for their peers (usually for students of other year levels). As part of Wellness 201, they will receive additional training in managing discussion groups, such as ice breakers, asking questions, active listening, role playing and to use Interactive Journaling® as a tool for self-discovery and reflection to promote lasting behavior change. Learning is experiential, draws from students’ own lives, and encourages participants to put into immediate practice the lessons they’ve learned.

This has two major impacts. Firstly the student coaches KNOW that the class is not just academic. They will actually have to lead a group of real people in discussions on wellness, feelings and other topics in our leaders guides. This promotes leadership and social and emotional learning. Secondly, the other members of the peer discussion group will be led through those discussions giving them a chance to be heard, express thier feelings, make new friends and feel involved in a non-judgemental group.

Group sessions reinforce and build on students’ journaling experiences by giving them opportunities to discuss, rehearse, and role play new ways of thinking, feeling, and acting. For Wellness 201, teachers act as facilitators to handle administrative tasks, support students, and ensure that the environment fosters supportive interactions among participants.As many as 65 students can be cultivated as champions for wellness because Wellness 201 engages all participants, both student peer coaches and participants in a program that makes a difference in their lives and influences and inspires those around them.

Flexible Curriculum to Suit Your Needs

Wellness 201 offers schools maximum flexibility because each unit is independent and can be offered alone or in different combinations. Units can be incorporated into core content classes, electives, free periods, after school and summer programs, guidance and counseling sessions, and college-and-career-prep classes. The units may be taught in sequence or any other way that best suits the unique needs of an individual class, cohort, or school.

The program is delivered to students online and is accompanied by a workbook that reinforces the online learning. Teachers receive a teacher’s manual and discussion guide to maximize the bene t of the online portion of the program. The program also measures student achievement and participation.

How Is Student Achievement Recognized?

Recognition and celebration are key features of the program. Students earn certificates of completion and digital badges for their participation in the wellness course.

Sample End-of-Program feedback from Student Wellness Coaches

What pleased you most about how the sessions went?

Surprisingly, people participate a lot more than I had expected going into the Wellness seminars.  After getting more comfortable with each other, I feel like people really do feel open to saying even touchy things in class.  I love to see this because I understand that there must be trust and respect in order for this to happen, and I love thinking that both of us have been so friendly and open through the strategies that we created such an amazing open community within the classroom.

What should IWE do to make this a better experience for future coaches?

I think the weekly journal handbooks were AMAZING, as we had every resource we needed, but it also gave us flexibility to do what we wanted as coaches.  I think we should get a list of more activities to do, but otherwise it was a very smooth transition.  Also, the mid-trimester meeting was helpful to hear from other coaches

What other factor, if any, in your life, did this program affect?

The program also affected my ability to cope with stressful situations under pressure by using different techniques throughout the journals to remain calm and figure out what needs to be done.

What did your participants do or say to you that indicated that they were getting something positive out of the program?

We do ask them occasionally how they are doing and weekly, we ask them how they use the journal outside of class. We get some amazing responses, like they used the journal when they feel really stressed to vent or they were able to at least become more aware of themselves. xxxx and I have heard year 10’s recalling how they used specific phrasing and lessons from the journals to comfort younger siblings after they did terrible at their sports games. It really honestly touches my heart when I hear that this Wellness actually helps others in real life.

Describe at least three lessons you learned from leading your journal clubs that you will apply to your life in the future.

I learned that it’s not all about how you do, but how the other person is doing at the time as well. I also learned that things change from group to group (attitudes, tiredness, levels of focus, etc.), and that it isn’t something to worry about just something to adjust to.

What kind of student do you think would do best as a peer wellness coach?

Any student willing to be a wellness coach, really. All of us who were coaches this year have very different backgrounds. We all got the same training and it worked out fine. The emphasis on (working with) different personalities is very important in my opinion.