Event Information:


Wednesday, April 3, 2024


9:00 a.m. CT


Parents Hall, Olmsted Center at Drake University

Live Stream on The Harkin Institute YouTube channel.


This event is free, and your registration includes a provided lunch. If you are unable to attend, please email harkininstitute@drake.edu, or cancel through Eventbrite to help us minimize our food waste.


American Sign Language (ASL) and live captioning (CART) will be provided for all main stage content, in-person and virtually. ASL for in-person breakout sessions available upon request. Those requests, as well as any additional accomodations requests can be made by emailing harkininsititute@drake.edu

Event Summary:

The prevalence of mental health issues has increased dramatically in recent years, particularly in the wake of massive social disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This led the nation’s leading child health organizations and the US Surgeon General to declare a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health, an emergency that has both serious immediate consequences and ominous implications for the future. Though many ideas and approaches have been proposed to address this crisis, it is a challenge to implement any particular solution at a scale significant enough to truly tackle the problem.

We believe the K-12 school system can be a key vehicle for changes that can positively impact children’s wellbeing across the United States. As the location where children spend the largest portion of their time outside of the home, activities at schools that promote wellbeing have been shown to have an important impact on children’s academics and mental health. Not only that, but curricula that engages students in hands-on, collaborative, whole health learning has been shown to improve their own wellbeing, mental health, and academics through their school years and into adulthood.

For this reason, The Harkin Institute and our partner WholeHealthED chose “Wellbeing in Schools” as the focus of the 2024 Harkin on Wellness Symposium. The event will feature innovative approaches to improving health and wellness in schools that can mitigate the challenges facing students, teachers, and school leaders. These approaches include activities like mindfulness practices and spending time outdoors, as well as learning skills through school gardens, teaching kitchens and cognition-bolstering physical education. We will bring together advocates, policymakers, education leaders, teachers, pediatricians, and practice innovators from around the country to address whole child wellbeing approaches, to review the scientifically supported best practices, and to consider the case for placing health and wellbeing squarely at the heart of our education system’s mission to prepare students for successful lives.

Speakers and Panelists

Full list of speakers and panelists coming soon!

Address: 2800 University Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50311

Phone: (515) 271-3623

Email: harkininstitute@drake.edu

Office Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.