Growing Healthy

1975-2015 Celebrating 40 Years of Advancing the Nation's Private-Sector Efforts in Health Education

Growing Healthy, America's first comprehensive school health education curriculum, is designed to provide school health teachers with the tools they need to effectively teach health education.

The first segment of the Growing Healthy curriculum, a comprehensive health education prototype for grades 4, 5, 6, and 7, was developed during the 1960's in California. With support from the Public Health Service, US Department of Health and Human Services, the curriculum became the School Health Curriculum Project (SHCP) and was tested extensively throughout the country. SHCP became known informally as the Berkeley program.

Complementing this curriculum for grades 4-7, the Centers for Disease Control's Bureau of Health Education-now the CDC Division of Adolescent and School Health-and the American Lung Association collaborated between 1974 and 1978 to develop the Primary Grades Health Curriculum Project (PGHCP), a health education program for K-3 students.

In stressing aspects of health such as personal health habits and values, self-esteem, and decision-making skills, both curricula transcended traditional hygiene and disease-focused approaches to health education. In 1978, the two components were forged into a single, sequential health education program, which later came to be called Growing Healthy. At that time, it was the first comprehensive health education curriculum in the country. Since then, with NCHE managing the ongoing development and dissemination of Growing Healthy, the program has reached more than 5 million children in grades K-6 in 15,000 schools throughout the country.

As a result of its commitment to accurate, effective, and up-to-date health education, Growing Healthy was recognized by the National Diffusion Network (NDN) in 1984 as an exemplary curriculum and became one of the most widely adopted NDN curricula of any kind.

In 1986, 1991, and 1996, the National Center for Health Education conducted revisions of Growing Healthy, which were led by professional curriculum developers and health educators and were based on widespread input from teachers and trainers experienced in implementing the curriculum.

In 1991, representatives of nearly 40 national educational and health organizations addressed ways of improving the welfare of America's children by strengthening health education. Their plan of action included the development of standards that describe for schools, parents, and communities what health education should enable children to do. In summary, a school health education curriculum that meets these National Health Education Standards prepares students to:

  • Understand health promotion and disease prevention concepts
  • Know how to access valid health information, products, and services
  • Develop positive health behaviors
  • Analyze the influence of culture, media, and technology on health; use interpersonal communications skills to enhance health
  • Develop plans through individual goal setting and decision making
  • Become advocates for good individual, family, and community health

Growing Healthy meets or exceeds the performance indicators established for the National Health Education Standards at all grade levels.