From the Inside: Healthy Minds and Bodies Program

By Maria Tanner | August 15, 2017

By Olivia Bates ’18

What’s your Big Idea? As a rising senior in the Early Elementary/Special Education and Honors programs at Arcadia, I have had multiple opportunities to explore my passions and skills through interesting curricular and extracurricular experiences. Throughout the past three years, I have taken leadership courses, served and led Honors Council committees, and planned events for the community. Most recently, I had the rewarding opportunity to combine my passion for education and Honors as a member of the TEDxArcadiaUniversity 2017: “The Big Idea” team.

TEDxArcadiaUniversity is an event hosted by one of the Honors Program courses. Throughout the semester, students gain planning, fundraising, marketing, and communication skills while also writing their own TEDx talks. On the day of the event, students share their talks and learn from classmates’ and community leaders’ stories. This year’s conference focused on speakers’ Big Ideas; with topics including education, community service, health, and the American Dream.

In developing my talk, I considered my interests and aspirations. As a preservice teacher, I am passionate about education and strive to develop powerful lessons. Through my experiences, I realized the importance of fostering both academic and social-emotional development in students. Even in elementary school, students already struggle with negative self-concepts and body images. Therefore, my Big Idea was to create a program called, “From the Inside: Healthy Minds and Bodies” to address these issues with a curriculum focusing on positive self-talk, healthy habits, physical activity, and respect.

Through the support of my host teacher and Arcadia family, I had the opportunity to develop this program and teach a lesson to my second grade students on the importance of valuing themselves and others. I began by writing each student a “Value Letter” highlighting personal characteristics over physical features. After a discussion on value, students wrote their own letters to peers; sharing messages such as “You are a great friend” and “You always try your best and never give up when it’s tough.” I was extremely proud of their learnings and delighted by their engagement. The lesson took off and students continued to share positive messages with peers for the remainder of the school year. I plan on developing and teaching this curriculum with my future students to continue fostering positive self-concepts.

The Honors Program at Arcadia allows students to dream big and execute their goals in a supportive environment. Through my experiences in Honors, I learned to take advantage of every opportunity to learn, grow, and make my Big Ideas reality.