Pimatisiwin

Health Is Life in Balance: Students and Communities Explore Healthy Lifestyles in a Culturally Based Curriculum

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Abstract

From exploring knowledge from wise members of the community to investigating the science of homeostasis, students learn healthy ways of living through a new hands-on curriculum, Diabetes Education in Tribal Schools: Health Is Life in Balance. The curriculum integrates science and Native American traditions to educate students about science, diabetes and its risk factors, and the importance of nutrition and physical activity in maintaining health and balance in life. Applying an inquiry-based approach to learning, the curriculum builds skills in observation, measurement, prediction, experimentation, and communication, and provides healthy lifestyle messages and innovative science activities for all students. The curriculum is now available to teachers and health educators at no cost through a federal grant.
Health Is life in Balance incorporates interdisciplinary standards as well as storytelling to help children understand important messages. Implementation evaluation of the curriculum indicated improved knowledge and attitudes about science and health, positive teacher and student comments, and culturally relevant content. The lessons highlighted in this article give a glimpse into this hands-on curriculum which integrates science and Native American traditions, looking to our past and listening to the wisdom of our Elders, to gain powerful information for healthy, holistic living. The circle of balance is a theme in many indigenous belief systems and is woven into the lessons, providing enduring understandings of health behaviours that can prevent type 2 diabetes in the context of Native American cultural themes.

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