Healthy Schools Tucson

Healthy Schools Tucson is an 11-session obesity prevention program for middle school students. HST participants learn how to lead a healthier lifestyle through fun, hands-on education, taught by undergraduate/graduate students from the University of Arizona College of Public Health. ZFCPHP receives support from Dr. Frank Marcus, University of Arizona Professor Emeritus of Medicine, and proudly partners with Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School (SPPS) to host HST. 

UA MEZCOPH students lead HST sessions at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School.

Healthy Schools Tucson aims to reduce childhood obesity prevalence through achievement of the following goals:

  1. COVID-19 prevention and reducing stress
  2. Immunity and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables
  3. Monitor sugar intake
  4. Awareness of "portion distortion" and control
  5. Moving our body, every day
  6. Increased sleep and hydration
  7. Tobacco and vaping prevention

The HST curriculum includes lessons on healthful habits in nutrition, physical activity, hydration, stress management, and self-care. Program participants complete a student wellness questionnaire before and at the end of the HST program to monitor changes in health habits. 

HST participants learning about hydration and "food as energy"


Sixth grade students learning about the quantity of sugar in popular sodas and beverages

Since Fall 2018, HST has reached over 850 middle school students in Tucson, Arizona and has been delivered by undergraduate/graduate UA MEZCOPH students through service-based learning (HPS 497L-001). Read our our testimonials from participants, parents, and SPPS staff below:

"After learning about how much sugar was in sodas, I have cut down on drinking so much soda. I tried the healthier soda alternative (¼ cup of 100% fruit juice, carbonated water, and ice) at home and even my mom likes it!” -8th grade student

“My daughter has now had the [HST] program in both sixth and eighth grade. She learned a tremendous amount about how to establish important healthy lifestyle habits. She looked forward to the Healthy Schools Tucson program every week. Thank you for providing the program to the students!” -8th grade parent

"The lesson on how much sleep is needed has been helpful to know as our daughter has been talking about sleeping. She has even been making efforts to go to bed earlier. Impressive to see an impact! Separately, I really like that my daughter heard the Healthy Schools information in sixth grade and is hearing it again in eighth grade. There is so much developmental change in that time. I have seen her make some changes related to sleeping and eating, which helps us as we try to communicate the same messages." -8th grade parent

"SPPS depends upon the University of Arizona College of Public Health for providing this enrichment program for our students. It supplements the science/health curriculum at the school with current scientific research that is so needed for today's youth. Middle schoolers can often follow the crowd down a dangerous path. Understanding the science behind many societal trends, helps our students realize the importance of healthy living. Having that information delivered by young college students who are more attuned to the teenage fads and frenzies is a double plus. Our students tend to listen better and absorb more information from someone closer in age to themselves." -Marty Ratliff, 8th grade teacher and vice principal

For more information about Healthy Schools Tucson, please contact Sabrina Plattner, Health Educator Sr. (

SPPS students learn about physical activity for a healthy heart!