By the time I was a junior in high school, I was almost 300 lbs. I was prediabetic, had horrible heartburn, and felt very low confidence. This had gone on for years until I was finally fed up with living like that. I ended up losing over 100 pounds by the time I graduated from high school, and never looked back. Throughout that weight-loss journey, God started showing me how He has made our bodies, and if we partner with that design and steward our bodies well, we can be available to serve others better and to do all God has called us to.
Since then, over the past 10 years, it has been amazing what God has done. Through Glory to Glory Fitness, we have helped hundreds of adults and thousands of students understand how to build a solid foundation of healthy habits. As we were helping adults, we started to see the real issue was that no one ever taught these adults how to live a healthy lifestyle while they were young. I believe the way to change the health of our nation is to equip and empower the next generation. That’s why our mission is to get a quality health education to every student in America.
Health education today is more important than it has ever been. But it seems like health education in many schools today is often put on the back burner. Much of the curriculum offered is outdated, and it doesn’t actually help students to create the habits they need to continue beyond graduation. This certainly isn’t due to the amazing teachers out there! They are doing the best they can with the resources they have.
As we have partnered with schools all over the US, I usually see two main problems when it comes to their health education programs:
Problem 1: Priority
The first main problem I see in health education is the lack of priority. Health education is often treated as “less than” other subjects. It’s viewed more as an elective than it is a core subject. It is often put on the back burner and is the first thing to go in a crisis or if there is a lack of staff. While math, language arts, science, and history are essential, I believe health education is just as critical for students to learn. After all, the habits (or lack of habits) they create with their health will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Their health can be a blessing and empower them to do all God has called them to do, or it can be a burden and hinder them from fully sustaining the call God has on their life.
It’s not as if educators do this on purpose. Much of this has to do with the education system and the standards in each state that dictate how much to focus on certain subjects. And unfortunately, the priority just isn’t there. On top of that, educators are so busy with everything else, they barely have time to think about health education and how to make it better. The teachers who are actually teaching the Health and PE classes are usually coaching four other sports and traveling to tournaments in addition to having a full-time teaching job. It can be a lot!
The last issue I will mention here is that colleges don’t care about health education at all. There is no ACT or SAT on health. There are no aspects of one’s health that can give a student an edge in getting into college. Getting students into great colleges is often a primary goal for most private schools; health education doesn’t really help to get that done. So school administrators check the box and give students a completion grade so they can move on to the “more important” subjects that really matter when it comes to getting into colleges. Now I am not opposed to college at all; I have multiple college degrees myself. But our goal in educating students isn’t solely for college prep. It is also to help them to become good stewards of everything God has entrusted to them (including their physical body) so that they can fully develop and step into their calling.
We must prioritize health education and not treat it as a “less than” subject. This includes having content and systems that take work off teachers. This content must be relevant to students, keep them engaged, and help them apply what they learn.
Problem 2: Information Overload
We don’t have an information problem in America today, especially when it comes to health. Anyone can go on Google and look up “how to be healthy” and 50+ million results pop up. My friends, we don’t have a lack-of-information problem in health education. We have a lack-of-application problem.
Most information in health education is dated and boring. I was talking to a school the other day and their resources were from 2001! Another teacher we work with was teaching his students from the same book he learned from in high school twelve years ago. We give students a 300-page book with facts about the body and we expect them to know how to apply these concepts in their day-to-day life. But the truth is, they may be able to study these facts to pass a test, but the moment they pass that test they forget all about what they learned last semester because it isn’t relevant to their current life and situation.
Many times, the more information we give students, the less they actually apply. Add to that the thousands of different articles and opinions out there that contradict each other, and it can become quite confusing. Beyond the confusion, there is the fact that it is hard for kids and teens not to compare themselves to other people on social media without feeling pressured to look a certain way or eat a certain way. These problems only get worse as their body changes and their metabolism goes down as they age.
Of course, we need to cover the standards and basic information about the body. But we can’t stop there. We must help students apply this information in their lives in a relevant way they will be able to sustain. Our goal should be to help them build actual habits they can apply into every season of life so they can serve God and others better. We must focus on application over information. Having systems and content that break down health into simple frameworks for students, are relevant and engaging, and are Biblically based is a must when covering the standards of health education. Health education isn’t just about teaching the right things to do; it’s about teaching students the right way to think about health. After all, transformation comes by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:1-2).
Wrapping it up
I have deep respect for educators. They sacrifice so much and don’t get compensated enough in return. The heart of Glory to Glory Fitness is to partner with educators in health education to give them resources that simplify health education for their students and make their lives easier. Creating a cohesive system for health education doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated. We partner with schools all over the country to give them a turn-key system that fixes both of these problems. We also have free resources on our website to get you started.
Be encouraged today. God will give you the grace you need to be the educator He has called you to be. What are some next steps you can take to improve the way you cover health education in your school?