According to the Center for Disease Control, "Health is more than the absence of disease; it is a resource that allows people to realize their aspirations, satisfy their needs and to cope with the environment in order to live a long, productive, and fruitful life. In this sense, health enables social, economic and personal development fundamental to well-being."
Well-being is a crucial part of our lives and in an effort to recognize the importance of student health, Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) offers a course called Healthful Living 100.
The EMCC class schedule describes Healthful Living 100 (HES100) as a class that explores current topics of interest such as stress management, fitness, alcohol and drug abuse, and relationships, and evaluates the risks associated with the modern lifestyle.
Taught by Annann Hong, Ph.D., HES100 fulfills the General Education Requirement for Social and Behavioral Sciences and is used to satisfy various health related degrees at Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, as well as the Personal Trainer Certificate offered at various Maricopa Community College campuses.
HES100 is thoughtfully orchestrated around the eight dimensions of wellness. Represented as a wagon wheel, each dimension of wellness is a part of the whole, intertwining to create overall well-being. The eight factors that represent each wheel spoke are: physical, emotional, social, environmental, sexual, spiritual, occupational, and intellectual wellness.
Expect to learn about nutrition and why a healthy diet is important. Hong likes to use peanut butter as a prime example, "Take peanut butter- a natural, healthy whole food. Somehow the norm has become Jiffy and Skippy; hydrogenated, processed, lacking nutrition. What happened?!"
Among other things covered in the course are guidelines for healthy ways to fight diseases prevalent in our society today, how to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases, and how to squeeze in physical activity where least expected, like lunges while brushing one’s teeth.
Although the district creates basic guidelines for the necessary material that needs to be covered in the course, Hong often goes beyond the minimum and tries to bring forth new ideas and staggering facts to her students.
"One of the great things about being a professor here at Estrella is there's academic freedom; there are really no limits. I think what motivates me to cover the things I cover in class stems from my firsthand experiences as a health educator and the experiences of my students," she said. With each class Dr. Hong logs new stories from her students, learning about what students are facing today and passing along the knowledge to future classes.
To make the course more personal, SMART Goals are created by each student at the beginning of the semester and worked on throughout. SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) is the criteria which help guide in the setting of objectives. The point of SMART Goals is to help the student learn how to set attainable goals, create a plan to fulfill them, and evaluate ones progress and make changes where needed.
Whether the goal is to walk for 30 minutes five times a week or stop drinking soda or even stick to building ones savings account, the project provides a strong guide for creating goals and proves the students capabilities.
Speaking of goals, Hong has a few goals in mind for HES100. "Now that I have been here a while, one of the things I am hoping to do, that I would love to do, is build a curriculum around HES100. The problem right now is that HES100 sort of sits in a vacuum by itself. It meets the social behavioral requirements if you plan to transfer, but it doesn't really reside in the context of a program specifically within Estrella,” she said.
Hong hopes to create an associate's or certificate program that would springboard off of HES100 and continue into the health education field, and would also like to see HES100 incorporated into other EMCC offerings, such as the healthcare programs through the SouthWest Skill Center.
In general she would like to see health education grow on campus, with students becoming more health conscious and spreading the word. “There is something about the traditional college environment that breeds higher risk for health concerns and it has been a really interesting population to work with.”
College students certainly do have a knack for honing unhealthy habits, considering their limited time and resources. But in the same light, they could hone healthy habits just as well, and this is where HES100 lends itself.
Aside from the practical information provided in the course, there is something to be said for Hong’s unique teaching style that really sets this class apart from others. “She is so passionate about teaching; she goes into rants because she gets so excited. It’s funny,” said Briana De La Rosa, a student in Hong’s class.
Hong’s spirit fills the room during class discussions, her passion so fiery she might burst, or pass out from not taking a breath. Not only is she entertaining, but her energy ignites a tiny flame within the student, infecting them with inspiration and awareness.
“Just at a basic level, I don’t necessarily feel like students have to remember every little nugget of factual information that I pass on to them, but I think bringing awareness to the idea of personal health decisions having far wider reaching effects than we often consider, I think conceptually it can help each of us make different choices when we think about upping our accountability to each other, being a role model for other people, or being more observant of what others are going through. Really encouraging positive social health; encouraging people to care,” said Hong.
De La Rosa says this class is helpful because “it makes you more aware of your body and you learn about yourself and how to build relationships.” She also said she would definitely recommend the class to other students because the environment allows you to freely express yourself and your ideas, which makes the class enjoyable rather than dreadful.
Whether or not students are pursuing a health-related career field or just want to be healthier in their personal lives, HES100 offers something for everyone.