Teen Health at Old Orchard Junior High School in Skokie, Illinois


Background

I have been teaching at Old Orchard since 1971. I started teaching health in 1974 and believe that health is an important subject for junior high school students. I believed then, and still do today, that health and wellness are critical to success and happiness in life.

As required by Illinois law, Teen Health is taught for nine weeks to all students in the seventh and eighth grades. The class is taught with the idea that if students learn to actively make positive health choices, they will experience a high level of wellness. This wellness will allow students to achieve the goals and dreams they have for their lives.

"The greatest of follies is to sacrifice health
for any other kind of happiness."

The basic text for this class is Teen Health, Course 2, Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, Publisher.

Wellness Theory

Wellness philosophy is the belief that total health is made up of a combination of physical, mental/emotional and social well-being. Achieving total health is a journey. Helping students see that it is there own self-interest to take care for themselves is a challenge. I use four main goals to help keep me focused on my teaching.

During Teen Health, students will:

  • discuss long and short term benefits of positive health habits.
  • learn why prevention is better than treatment.
  • discover that wellness means actively making positive health choices.
  • reflect on how life choices have real consequences.

A few words about choices and risks

I do not teach that each person can make their own choice and whatever they choose is what is best for them. Giving that message implies that dangerous and foolish choices are OK. I teach that there are positive choices and there are dangerous or destructive choices.

Last year's Snowflake theme was: "Your destiny lies not in the chances you take, but the choices you make." It is a good message. Choices do matter and they are not equal. I also teach that some choices cannot be undone, such as giving up virginity or becoming addicted to a chemical.

I also discuss the concept of risk. The imagined risk of an amusement park ride is compared to the real risk of cancer from exposure to tobacco. Life has real choices and real consequences. The more I can make that concept real, the better students have of living productive lives. 12/2001

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