The Project for Whole Health Learning in K-12 has been organized to develop and advocate for an increasingly needed learning experience in American elementary and secondary education: one that specifically prepares children and young adults with the skills and knowledge needed to manage the many aspects of life that will influence their health, the health of their families and communities, and the vitality and prosperity of the Nation.
Students leave secondary school with a learned competency in health- and wellness-based subjects and the tools of self-care to use as they grow and mature.
Our mission is to develop and advance models for whole health learning. We partner with others who are committed to improving the health and quality of life for our children. We believe that sustained learning in school is essential to achieving these goals. We do this by raising awareness of the achievements of K-12 wellness programs whose collective work has helped establish a national movement in whole health learning.
The Unsustainable Future
The question: Whose job is it to prevent that disc on the right above from filling with orange?
The research into chronic adult illnesses repeatedly asserts that 70% of chronic illnesses is the result of personal lifetime habits that eventually undermine healthy functioning of the body and mind, to say nothing of one’s vitality and personal relationships, for far too many people.
In the eyes of many, escaping that orange tide is simply a matter of personal responsibility: it’s everyone’s job. OK. So let’s prepare everyone for it.
In recent years many formidable efforts have been established to counter the crisscrossing tides of ill health that bedevil too many American neighborhoods: childhood obesity, trauma- and dysfunction-inducing social determinants, the role of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), all now made exceedingly more difficult with the presence of the addiction epidemic.
It is easy to see why the responsibility for redressing these challenges has been taken up by the nation’s healthcare establishment. But the skills and mindset needed to prepare the generations to come to avoid falling into that 50% adult obesity cohort are far outside of the purpose, culture and objectives of the healthcare system. What is really needed is a learning system.
Fortunately we have one, with outposts in every neighborhood in the nation. Its purpose, history, capacities, culture and objectives are designed specifically to prepare children with the knowledge and tools they will need to succeed and prosper in their adult years.
Building on K-12 Wellness Innovations Across the U.S.
Since the early 2000s medical science and integrative health have gained astonishing new understandings of human biology and our health. In the same period wellness innovators at work on and around K-12 campuses have created solid foundations of experience and growing communities of specialists. Together these health-centric threads suggest a timely and important potential for adding the formal study of health strengthening factors to K-12 education.
Our task is to bring together innovators and visionaries who have planted this first generation of sustainable wellness programs and strategies on K-12 campuses and to promote the expansive potential of their collective work, including how it can complement, and even accelerate, national healthcare objectives to embed true prevention and wellbeing in our communities. This process began at our inaugural June 2018 symposium at Georgetown University in Washington.
Read more about whole health learning HERE.
(Note: In September 2018, we modified the project name in part because the term “learning” is in alignment with an important companion movement in K-12 education: Social & Emotional Learning, or SEL. We believe that the qualities of whole health learning — collaboration, hands-on, social and supported — are well connected to the objectives of SEL. In addition, the phrase “whole health education” is a service mark of the National Institute of Whole Health, NIWH.)