Vibrant Health in Schools
Vibrant Health in Schools is an educational approach to healthy living and maintaining a balanced lifestyle for pupils across national schools. It endeavours to introduce Preventative Medicine and create a truly empowering experience, which can positively impact and strengthen pupil's health from the very first day of teaching. The curriculum has been developed by a team of medical doctors with over 20 years of professional expertise in preventative healthcare.
The annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for 2012 titled: 'Our Children
Deserve Better: Prevention Pays' focuses on the health of children and young people
by looking at the medical and economic arguments relevant for early intervention;
explaining why it is important to invest in the health of young children. Many diseases
can be timely prevented if education on Preventative Medicine was established as
a statutory part of primary and secondary school education. This is why Vibrant
Health Education endeavours to prevent the nurturing of disease by information
deficiency. We promise to engage students in an active and practical learning
process to strengthen their overall health and well-being. Education on self-applied preventative
health strategies are intended to not just offer a 'shortcut' to the improvement
of public health, but to also give the additional benefit of cutting financial strains
on the NHS. Current costs in England for obesity alone, range from 588-686 million
per annum. Apart from obesity, other diseases also frequently begin in adolescence
(e.g. diabetes), and often in relation to self-mismanagement or faulty habits developed
during early formative years.
As an additional reference, over 900,000 people were
diagnosed with cancer in the UK during the period between 2008 and 2010. About 30%
of cancer deaths are considered to be related to the five leading behavioural and
dietary risks involving high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack
of physical activity, smoking and alcohol use. These and other risk factors are
easily detectable and relatively easy to prevent - with the implementation of preventive
medical measures. Cardiovascular pathologies kill more people each year than any
other disease. A majority of these pathological conditions can also be prevented
by addressing well known risk factors such as physical inactivity, tobacco use,
unhealthy diet or raised lipids - as well as by timely addressing less known cardiovascular
health disruptors e.g. specific nutritional deficiencies, psychological predisposition
(type A personality, including impatience or arrogance), or specific types of muscular
Statistics also show that 75% of adult mental health problems begin before
the age of 18, which leads to the logical conclusion that teaching scientifically
based self-help techniques to educate young people how to better manage their psychological
states would have a preventative effect on their mental health later in life.
Vibrant Health Education in British Schools covers an integrated approach to applied preventative medicine. It is based on teaching children the medical art of self-applied bioregulation hence, it facilitates self-regulatory mechanisms, also known as homeostasis, to optimise one's health and vitality. Among preventative health strategies that students will learn, include some of the following: the importance of hydration in both quantitative and qualitative terms, good eating habits and strategies for improving personal nutritional status; better emotional self-management, learning how to learn and strengthening cognitive skills, adopting a graceful posture, regular detoxification measures and learning how to take care from environmental pollution. The following example on respiratory awareness briefly describes a typical VHE lesson, and explains how it might be presented.
Respiratory awareness is an example of a self-applied VHE lesson that teaches students how to optimise their physiological respiration, and how to counteract or prevent faulty breathing habits. Students are essentially taught not to habitually cut their in-breath when under emotional strain (leading to diaphragmatic hypertonicity), nor to over-breathe when anxious. Over-breathing may trigger asthmatic attacks or alter pH status, altering the acid-base balance of the blood. An emphasis of the lesson is on practical exercises that ensure students learn different breathing techniques - e.g. quality of diaphragmatic breathing that helps prevent asthmatic attacks and balancing the autonomic nervous system (similar to the Buteyko method); or a variety of other breathing techniques that can help improve different aspects of health, such as to enhance concentration, calm pre-exam anxieties or simply help better ventilation of their lungs. Once these simple yet therapeutically effective breathing techniques are mastered, the knowledge remains active for the rest of one's life.
The above breathing techniques are taught in conjunction with a theoretical explanation of the process of pulmonary respiration and ventilation, and the role of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body; with associated visual aids and handouts. A key theme is mastering the 'Art of Breathing'; since a cumulative impact of long-term faulty breathing habits have detrimental outcomes on one's long-term health.
The main objective of Vibrant Health is to facilitate a new approach to general health in schools and communities. The project represents a timely initiative and a perfect response to the rising need for health consciousness. Jamie Oliver's accomplishment, regarding school meals, created the right momentum - one on which we can now build further upon. By successfully presenting a comprehensive programme for health care prevention during nursery, primary and secondary education, we can look towards long-term objectives that would involve creating happier and healthier people in the environment, while minimising demand for already overstrained medical funds.
Enthusiastic health aware pupils, PSHE teachers or a school nurse to be appointed as VH representatives, who would arrange the school's bulletin boards, with regular updates on health features.
Lectures and leaflets on preventative health strategies, healthy lifestyles and eco-living, such as lectures on improving concentration, vision, posture, nutrition, emotional management etc, are intended to create an overall healthy "buzz" at the school, leading towards a general shift in healthier lifestyle.
Pro-active involvement would include: screening for mineral and vitamin deficiencies or environmental toxicities, by taking sweat or hair analysis.
The project is run and supervised by medical doctors with professional expertise in medicine.
Engaging in a multimedia campaign to help spread Vibrant Health educational paradigm is already underway, as high profile media executives express interest in the Vibrant Health initiative.
Thomas Edison stated that "Prevention is the medicine of the future" in 19th century, but it seems that society is only now ready to consider implementing preventative health-building strategies into the educational system. Vibrant Health project offers practical solutions that may turn such a revolutionary idea into routine educational practice throughout the UK. We believe that teaching young people how to be healthy and happy should become the most fundamental aspect of statutory education.