Childhood is a critical stage to develop healthy behaviours, and the school years are an important developmental period in which children are learning and growing. School-based health promotion interventions are increasingly using the comprehensive school health (CSH) approach that has been found effective at improving health behaviours, while adapting to the school and community context to create and sustain a healthy school culture. The interconnected environments of school, home and community are key to the CSH approach, however, there is minimal research that has been conducted to determine the impact at the community-level. This research used a qualitative multiple case study design to explore the influence of a school-based health promotion intervention, APPLE Schools, on the school and community environments from the perspectives of school staff in Alberta, Canada. Twenty-two participants participated in walking interviews in five schools. The walking interview approach combined interviewing and field observation and empowered participants to share their local expertise and knowledge within the context of school and community environments. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using an inductive thematic approach. Four themes were identified: APPLE schools look different, APPLE Schools build champions, APPLE Schools builds community partnerships and APPLE Schools honours community culture. Health promotion practice in schools was uniquely adapted based on strengths and needs of each school and was broadly influenced by the community outside of school walls. In sum, it was found that school-based health promotion reaches beyond school walls and can influence the broader community environment.

Childhood is a critical stage to develop healthy behaviours, and the school years are an important developmental period in which children are learning and growing. School-based health promotion interventions are increasingly using the comprehensive school health (CSH) approach. CSH has been found effective in improving health and educational outcomes, including quality of life, healthy eating, physical activity, mental wellness and academic achievement. The interconnected environments of school, home and community are key to the CSH approach, however, there is minimal research that has been conducted to determine the impact at the community-level. This research used a qualitative multiple case study design to explore the influence of a school-based health promotion intervention, APPLE Schools, on the school and community environments from the perspectives of school staff in Canada. Twenty-two participants from five schools, took part in walking interviews. Interviews were transcribed and analysed for patterns and common themes. Four themes were identified: APPLE schools look different, APPLE Schools build champions, APPLE Schools builds community partnerships and APPLE Schools honours community culture. It was found that school-based health promotion reaches beyond school walls and can influence the broader community environment. This understanding will support stronger school–community relationships in future interventions.

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