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Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of blog posts written by Human Health students in the Health 1,2,3,4 program’s Health 497 course – Community Health Education Strategies. To see an overview of the program and this series, please read this post.  

By Kyla Achacon 

Health education is critical and relevant to every individual as being cognizant of your own health enables individuals to take better care of themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. Being exposed to components of a healthy lifestyle and being able to define health at an early age allows children to establish good habits during these important developmental years that they can carry with them throughout their lives. Health is subjective since we all have different needs, and this can make it difficult to determine personal health goals. Efficient health education during childhood is warranted as it encourages children to explore strategies that promote a healthy lifestyle and can reduce risks for certain health consequences and diseases that may arise later in life. 

It is a privilege to receive formal health education here at Emory and be provided with a variety of resources to guide us during stressful times and maintain our general health. Health education wasn’t emphasized in my middle school or high school, and I feel that maintaining good health through habits like eating healthy, exercising, and developing coping strategies wasn’t a high priority for me growing up. This absence of health education became apparent in my later years of high school and early college when there were huge shifts in culture and workload, resulting in confusion and stress with little knowledge of outlets or methods to cope. With trial and error coupled with more exposure to health education, I was able to adapt and define my own health. I find that awareness of what works for me, and what doesn’t work for me, allows me to better manage my stressors and helps me maintain a positive mindset about myself. Along with the many courses that I’ve taken in the Human Health department, the Health 1,2,3,4 classes such as Health 100 – It’s Your Health and Health 497 – Community Health Education strategies remind me that health is at the very core of how we carry out our lives. The way health education is approached when we are younger sets the stage for how we execute healthy habits later in life, which is why it’s so important to expose children to various health topics in school. I am very grateful to have had this opportunity to share my personal experiences and information I’ve learned about physical, mental, and emotional health with the King Middle students. 

We (the student instructors) had just as much to learn from the King Middle students as they had to learn from us. In the fall semester of Health 497, we prepared to teach these children and learned that student education should be supported by teacher learning. Educators must be knowledgeable about the subject that they’re teaching but also keep in mind that they can learn from each teaching experience. An actively-engaged educator will adapt the lessons to make sure the children are understanding the content. I felt this as each lesson came with its own obstacles, allowing my team to adjust the lesson plans and content accordingly. A lesson that was memorable to me was our lecture on stress, which explained what stress is, the different types, and healthy coping mechanisms. Students were really engaged in this lesson and eager to participate, and it surprised me how much they all knew about the subject. Though stressors are different for everyone, especially between middle school students and college students, this lesson displayed an overlap between emotions that arise from stressful situations and the way we can approach stress. We were able to connect with the students about what stress feels like and share anecdotes about how we have coped with these emotions throughout our lives. Something I love about Health 497 is that we place emphasis on mental health just as equally as we do with physical health, which was not a common experience as I was growing up. We do our best to create a safe environment where students can express themselves to us and their peers. This was evident in the stress lesson, and it was very rewarding seeing that and getting to engage and open up with them. 

I had an amazing experience in Health 497 working alongside considerate and driven people who are likewise passionate about health education. We all had different strengths to bring to each of our lessons and gained many skills that can be applied to areas outside of the classroom. I hope that this is not the last time I will be working with King Middle and am eager to see how this program grows in the future!