PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Health education specialists Kari Knapp and Ashwin Siddaraju with Peoria’s Hult Center for Healthy Living explain online learning is creating a barrier between health education and students.
“Students need this type of education right, no matter what. Despite the fact that they are virtually learning right now,” Knapp said.
Before the pandemic, Knapp and Siddaraju said the Hult center in Peoria provided hands-on health education in and out of the classroom in the tri-county area.
And when schools went virtual, so did Hult.
“So we’ve slowly seen some diminishing questions and sort of attentiveness when it comes to virtual programming than what we would normally see in a live setting,” Siddaraju said.
According to a 2020 Heart of Illinois United Way Community Assessment, The Hult Center needs to focus its youth health education on reproductive health, obesity, and mental health.
Both health education specialists tell WMBD there is a higher level of personability, individuality, and comfort with in-person learning, and it cannot be met through a computer screen.
They said if students can’t feel comfortable asking questions, they can not broaden their understanding of important health topics that are hard-hitting the community.
“These are conversations that we encourage them to have with a trusted adult or even contact us later on, as well,” Siddaraju said.
Overall Knapp said Hult’s education program has proven to be successful.
“Students are indicating that, ‘yes we have learned something,’ but also they are indicating there are positive behavior changes happening due to the program we are offering,” Knapp said.
The Hult center works with children who are homeschooled too. Knapp said for about $5 you can purchase recorded health lessons for your child.