Indian Education Established 2006

Health is Life in Balance

by Janet Belcourt

Health is Life in Balance

Diabetes Education in Tribal Schools K Š 4

The DETS project ŅHealth is Life in BalanceÓ is part of a national effort to decrease the incidence and improve the care of type 2 diabetes among American Indians and Alaska Natives. The DETS curriculum focuses on multidisciplinary inquiry based diabetes prevention lessons that connect reading, writing, science, health, and American Indian/Alaska Native culture and community. 

Participants learn about the Health is Life in Balance curriculum and experience activities from the sequence of K-12 units that relate key scientific concepts such as homeostasis to personal health with emphasis on building enduring understandings that will improve health behavior and prevent obesity and diabetes through the Native American idea of storytelling as a way of knowing. All lessons in Health is Life in Balance are inquiry based with a science or health theme; include cultural, career, and physical activity components; and are fully aligned with national, state, and American Indian standards. Each unit opens by stating the enduring understandings intended as learner outcomes and closes with the assessment of those understandings. This curriculum was created through a national coalition of eight tribal colleges, K-12 teachers, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Indian Health Service, although the project is focused on American Indians and Alaska Natives, the lessons are universal and provide an interesting twist in catching studentsÕ attention through Native American cultural components.


Ÿ      Curriculum:

o        K-4 has eight units

o        5-8 has a social studies and a science unit

o        9-12 has a science unit and a health education unit

Ÿ      Testing

o        The units have gone through three levels of testing in classrooms with a high percentage of Native American/Alaska Native students

o        Testing results have been used to revise units

Ÿ      Publishing

o        All units are expected to be published by the end of August 2008

Ÿ      Roll Out

o        A roll out of the curriculum will occur on November 12, 2008 at the Smithsonian American Indian Museum in Washington, D.C.

Ÿ      National Launch

o        The curriculum is expected to be disseminated to schools who will adopt the curriculum in January 2008.

Ÿ      Contact Information for Montana Schools

o        Janet Belcourt, Stone Child College, 406-395-4875 ext. 204,

o        Paula Firemoon, Fort Peck Community College, 406-768-6360,





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