This article presents results from the Cypriot experience of participation in a pan European health promotion project called 'Shape Up'. Implemented between September 2007 and June 2008, the aims of the overall programme reflect the primary concern of health promotion to facilitate healthy choices by creating the necessary conditions for their enactment. We describe the processes used in Shape Up before reporting findings from the evaluation undertaken by the University of Hull, UK. Findings from the Cypriot case studies demonstrate schools' potential to work in health promoting ways by enabling school communities to create environments conducive to health, where individuals are better able to take care of their health rather than simply implementing healthy activities at school. Participants in Shape Up Cyprus increased their access to healthier foods and opportunities to be active during and after school. Apart from visible environmental changes, participants were equipped with skills and critical knowledge to be healthier and more active citizens. They investigated the wider determinants of health and options for health improvement in specific contexts. They identified what needed changing within and around the school, developing visions of how changes could be enacted. They transferred visions into actions by writing letters, undertaking research, developing networks and accessing advice and financial support. We conclude that increasing awareness of the impact of structural factors upon health and the acquisition of skills in community action were central to Shape Up's success in Cyprus, and are therefore relevant for school-based health promotion.