A recent national study found that only half of American middle and high schools meet their state and district health education standards, and less than 25% of all students receive daily recommended physical activity standards. Without adequate health education and physical activity, youth face short-term and long-term consequences. These consequences are linked not just to adolescent health disparities, but also to youths’ educational attainment, employability, and other key outcomes throughout their lives.
The Grassroot Project has built an innovative model that provides low-cost, wrap-around health promotion programs for youth. We educate youth, engage their families in health communication skills-building workshops, and connect students and caregivers to clinical and social service providers. TGP’s programs use sports-based games as a tool to both increase the retention of key health messages and break the ice around sensitive health topics. By combining movement with learning, TGP is able to increase physical activity in schools at the same time as helping students to meet basic health literacy standards.
With our approach to re-imagining health education, schools are not only able to reach national health and physical education standards, but they are also able to provide health education in a format that students enjoy, that is community-centered, and that is led by near-peer role models.
As a result of programs, middle schoolers demonstrate increased health knowledge and improve their ability to apply this knowledge in their own lives, ultimately creating positive health behaviors and habits. In addition, our college student-athlete volunteers enter the workforce ready to be active community members and champions of health equity.