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What is the history behind the development of HealthSmart?

HealthSmart was the first national health curriculum to choose to focus on the CDC 6—the main areas of risk for children and adolescents as monitored by the National Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS).

When ETR convened a panel of national experts in health education over 20 years ago to discuss revising our comprehensive health education programs, Dr. Bill Kane, one of the original developers, said we should look to the epidemiology—the biggest risks to children and teens—and focus the lessons on shaping the behaviors that would help students avoid those major risks. This was also a time when the first National Health Education Standards had been released, and the focus in the field was shifting toward helping students develop skills in addition to understanding concepts.

It seems obvious today that we would want to home in on these areas of greatest risk and emphasize skill development, but the first edition of HealthSmart was actually quite revolutionary for its time. That focus on preventing real-life risks and teaching skills continues in the current editions of the program, which also add an emphasis on the Healthy Behavior Outcomes that will empower young people to achieve lifelong health and wellness.