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Think big – Health and wellness summit 2015

Dylan McShain

Dylan McShain, the Elementary PE Coordinator at GEMS American Academy, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

In this article, the author discusses ways students can research and apply their findings to the real world issues of today in a collaborative atmosphere.

It is that time of year again where the northern hemisphere gears up for another year of school. Children are excited to see their friends; parents are excited for their children to see their friends; and teachers prepare for another year of study. It is that adrenaline-charged time of year when anything is possible. But do we really believe that? Do we really believe our students are capable of doing the impossible? I think so.

At GEMS American Academy in Abu Dhabi, we are planning something ambitious. Time and time again we see conferences and meetings for adults to develop professionally and try and solve some of the world’s problems. We thought that if we as adults are capable of solving these problems, why not our students? They will invariably be the ones who have to face these present and future issues anyway.

That is why, this fall, our 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students will participate in the first annual Health and Wellness Summit. Much like it sounds, our students will invest in a unit of inquiry that aims to solve the biggest health and wellness problems of today. Obesity, malnutrition, heart disease, infant mortality – these are some of the possible topics our students will work to eradicate. And they will do it together.

3rd graders will work through the ideas related to growth mindset, 4th graders will be researching body systems and 5th graders will be inquiring about mindfulness and its relation to health and well-being. The culmination of their 6-7 week research will result in a full day conference. During the summit, students will participate in small groups of 20-25 where they will submit their findings, discuss the barriers to success and brainstorm solutions to a specific issue, which they have chosen beforehand.

If we truly believe our students are capable of anything, then it is our job as educators to create opportunities and avenues where our students can do the unimaginable. Let us not limit our students’ ability to grow with the boundaries we have placed on ourselves. This summit will allow our students to think, to research, and most importantly, to apply their understandings immediately to a real world problem. In this, we are fostering students who think bigger than ever.

Let us all start thinking BIG!

The original article can be found on Dylan’s blog here.

Dylan McShain is the Elementary PE Coordinator at GEMS American Academy in Abu Dhabi. He is passionate about public health, wellness and education. Read more on his blog

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