On March 20, the International Day of Happiness, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released the Happy Schools Report. The Happy Schools Report places happiness at the core of transformation for education. The Happy Schools Framework outlined in the report stands on four pillars:

  • People: To enhance interpersonal relationships, physical and socio-emotional wellbeing, and positive attitudes and attributes of actors within school communities: students, parents, teachers, school leaders, support staff, central managers, and community members.
  • Process: To transform curriculum pedagogy and assessment systems to leverage happiness and daily joy in schools, including through activities such as recess, sports arts, and extracurriculars that enhance teaching and learning experiences. 
  • Place: Transform both physical and digital spaces to make schools healthier, safer, and more inclusive community hubs.
  • Principles: Emphasize the fundamental values that bind together school communities and enable the realization of the people, process, and place pillars. 

Schools and childhood education are pivotal components of our societies. Every parent wants their child to learn, thrive, and be happy at school. Every teacher enters the profession with hopes of increasing the flourishing of childhood for each young human with whom they interact. And every child enters into this world as one open to learning. Happiness and learning are inextricably linked. Happy students learn more. Happy teachers teach better. And happy students and happy teachers create happy schools. 

Happy schools are particularly important for students on the autism spectrum. In the United States, autistic students receiving special education services graduate from high school at a lower rate than their peers. Autistic students also report higher rates of bullying and co-occurring mental health challenges. Encouraging a greater emphasis on wellbeing in schools could help address some of these current outcomes. It’s for that reason Proof Positive came to be. 

At Proof Positive, we’re actively working to change the narrative and improve wellbeing for all. Through our Autism Wellbeing Alliance, we ensure that disability perspectives are acknowledged and prioritized in global conversations on happiness and quality of life by: 

  • Amplifying the voices of those within the autism community.
  • Mobilizing Proof Positive Autism Wellbeing Alliance leaders to implement wellbeing skills into programming.  
  • Providing free, science-informed positive psychology resources from organizations, including The Greater Good Science Center, VIA Institute on Character, and Proof Positive (with specific supports designed for the autism and SPED communities). 
  •  Collaborating with universities, research institutes, individual educators, parents, and autistic individuals to scale wellbeing solutions.

To quote the Happy Schools report: “Our hope is that this report will spark a global movement towards happiness in education where every member of the school community realizes their full potential. We believe that when young students are nurtured by joyful learning experiences in their school environments, they become empowered adults capable of engaging positively with themselves, others, and the world around them.”

We couldn’t agree more. Indeed, we say, “Wellbeing Wins” almost every day here at Proof Positive!

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