In 2002, the declining state of health amongst American children and adolescents was just beginning to make headlines. The percentage of overweight youth was rising, while schools were simultaneously removing physical education (and recess) from the curriculum. Despite an increased emphasis on standardized test scores, academic performance was declining – especially among the nation’s least healthy youth. Alesha determined it was time for a proactive plan to improve adolescents’ commitment to personal health and well-being.
As part of her doctoral research, Alesha developed, implemented and assessed Reach Your Peak© , an evidence-based, non-competitive, individually tailored wellness curriculum, designed to inspire high school freshmen to take responsibility for creating a healthy lifestyle and nurturing all areas of their well-being: physical, emotional, social, psychological and spiritual. Teachers, counselors, parents and peers were integrated to support each participant in his/her pursuit of greater personal wellness and development of lifelong positive habits. The overall goal was to help youth move from a mindset of prevention and maintenance concerning their health, toward a proactive and future-oriented presence of mind, one in which individuals strive to reach their fullest potential.
The semester-long Reach Your Peak© curriculum yielded powerful results when comparing outcomes between students who enrolled in the class and a control group. Specifically, students exhibited statistically significant changes across many wellness domains, including:
- Increased physical activity levels (frequency + intensity)
- Improved cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2)
- Increased attendance across all classes
- Increased positive thinking and use of relaxation techniques
- Increased fitness knowledge and competence
- Improved relationships with a parent(s)
- Decreased body fat (% body composition)
- Decreased LDL cholesterol
- Increased nutrition knowledge + habits
Note: Selected Results
The potential power of Reach Your Peak© is far reaching, with implications at the community, school and individual level.
Reach your Peak©: Maximizing Potential Through Physical Wellness
Dissertation Director: Dr. Mary McCaslin, Ph.D. University of Arizona
Youth Wellness Program Development, Implementation and Assessment