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Phoebe, area schools celebrate HealthTeacher

Albany, GA

The Albany Herald
Jennifer Maddox Parks

ALBANY, Ga. -- Officials from Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, as well as representatives from roughly a dozen school systems in Southwest Georgia, came together recently to learn more about an online program aimed at promoting healthier lifestyles, as well as celebrate the progress the program has made so far.

Phoebe Network of Trust highlighted its HealthTeacher partnership and the program's newer resources available to schools at a luncheon for education representatives last week at Phoebe HealthWorks.

Officials say that Phoebe underwrites and supports HealthTeacher -- which originates in Nashville, Tenn. -- at more than 100 schools in a 16-county area of Southwest Georgia. It functions as an online resource of lessons and interactive tools, and is designed to promote healthy lifestyles. Lessons cover the most relevant youth health issues -- like bullying, obesity, physical activity and depression -- and are built for seamless classroom integration.

"It's more than a curriculum. It's a responsive tool," said Debra Hopkins, vice president of education at HealthTeacher. "... We have parents who tell us their children want to go to the grocery store with them."

Officials say the lessons are aligned with National Health Education Standards and the Common Core State Standards for English/Language Arts, as well as other academic subjects such as science, math and social studies.

One example Hopkins demonstrated at the luncheon is a lesson that merges the interpretation of nutrition labels with multiplication tables.

"This program is a way to integrate health into all subject areas," said Eddie McBride, health education coordinator at Phoebe.

Other components of HealthTeacher include "Go Noodle," a five-minute brain break game, "HealthTeacher at Home," a free website for parents to connect with the program, and "Awesome Upstander," a game that teaches kids how to stand up to bullies.

There are also tools that cater specifically to high school students, primarily in the form of role-playing, advocacy and lessons on drug use.

"We've worked to make this real age-appropriate," Hopkins said.

In addition to keeping users up-to-date on trending health news, HealthTeacher has smartboard-friendly components, videos as well as a Spanish translation tool for families who utilize English as a second language.

HealthTeacher was introduced to the Southwest Georgia area in 2011 and is being offered free through 2015, McBride said. So far, it has gotten a good response from the schools that are using it, who say the program appears to have been effective at instilling healthy lifestyles earlier in life.

"The children love the interactive games, and the teachers love it," McBride said. "We need to get them to develop healthy habits and an early age. As we get older, it can be harder to break those habits."

Read this article on the Albany Herald Website.

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