December 3, 2013

Originally published by eSchoolnews

Like the murmur of a bee hive, there’s a buzz spreading through physical education and stakeholders who are involved in preventative healthcare measures across the country. Word on the street is that Interactive Health Technology’s (IHT) “Spirit System” and “PE 3” Curriculum is completely revolutionizing PE classes and the connection between student health and academic success. Educators, healthcare professionals and policy makers from across the nation have been searching for an answer to the question: how do we empower young people to become self-motivated in managing their health on their own accord for a lifetime, eliminate the “one size fits all” approach to education, connect to parents, while increasing accountability, assessment and evaluation standards?

Schools across the country have found the answer and invested in the simplest, most innovative web-based physical education assessment and curriculum system in the educational market today developed by Interactive Health Technologies in Austin, Texas.

Sweeping the country in rapidly gaining momentum, IHT’s Spirit System provides immediate and individualized health data to all stakeholders, especially children and their parents, while rolling the aggregate data up to the district, state and national levels. It allows teachers, students, and parents to objectively assess performance in PE every day through cardiac monitoring and receive immediate reports on their mobile phone the instant class ends. The web based software stores, captures and delivers each student’s daily effort, as well as pre and post fitness testing and unlimited assessment measures that can capture academic performance, attendance, blood pressure, or any other measurement a district, school or teacher chooses. In doing so, by the time first grade students graduate from high school they will have 12 years of their entire health, academic, behavior and attendance history in one place with the ability to correlate all that data together.

Complementing this technology, IHT created a ground-breaking physical education curriculum called “PE 3” (PE for the Mind, Body, Spirit), which connects and strengthens all areas of a student’s life and strengthens parental engagement, education, and involvement. IHT co-founder Jen Ohlson’s award-winning documentary, “Health Needs a Hero”, was the catalyst for PE 3, when she was searching for one student to share their story and instead uncovered over 1,000 in San Antonio, TX with a body mass index (BMI) over 40, considered morbidly obese.

In its first year, PE 3 had unmatched results in lowering student BMI’s while teaching personal responsibility and accountability. Due to its success, PE 3 was made an official course in Texas schools and is now aligned to national and Common Core standards, impacting lives across the country. With the PE 3 curriculum and accompanying student journal, students are encouraged to continue an active lifestyle beyond the school walls, bringing topics such as healthy eating to the family dinner table, and engaging in cross curricular learning, all of which is evaluated and measured through the Spirit System.

The IHT Spirit System and PE 3 Course transform PE from prescribing exercise to groups of individuals to prescribing exercise to individuals in a group setting. Middle school PE teacher Doug Hallberg in Mohonasen, New York raves that the Spirit System is, “Incredibly user friendly and meets kids where they are right with technology. The feedback is immediate, especially in connecting to my student’s parents, which is a state requirement for all subjects. With the Spirit System I can now comply with this mandate, something our science, math and other subjects are still struggling with.”

Barbara Johnson, PE Administrator for the Dallas Independent School District in Texas adds, “The benefits are highly visible for every stakeholder. We have 226 campuses and nearly 1,000 PE teachers. We have never had data like this before at the Administrative level, nor have we been able to support all of our teachers on a daily basis from a centralized level. We view IHT as important as any other technology we are investing in within the district.”

With IHT’s purpose solely focused on enhancing education, the company has been successful in developing one of the simplest, yet most powerful integration tools in the educational market that gets all stakeholders – and all subjects – involved in the process of educating and supporting every student, every day of their academic career. “The Spirit System validates physical education as a significant part of the school day, and in many ways, makes PE the hub of all learning,” says IHT co-founder and President, Jen Ohlson. “We believe the principals of sustaining long-term health are universal, but the applications must be individualized and must resonate and connect with each student in order to stick,” she adds.

Interactive Health Technologies LLC, an Austin, TX based technology company, was born from co-founder Jen Ohlson’s dream of improving the health and academic performance of school children by using technology to localize the process of assessment, evaluation and educational efforts, teach personal responsibility and self-management of one’s health at a young age, connect the dots between all stakeholders and validate funding and support for PE through objective daily-to-yearly assessment. By putting the power in the hands of students, parents, teachers and schools, IHT is revolutionizing Physical Education classrooms for the 21st century with a large-scale, viable and cost effective solution to decrease the nation’s healthcare costs associated with obesity, which are estimated to cost taxpayers nearly $344 billion annually and account for 21% of our nation’s overall healthcare expenses in the next few years alone.

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