BPL Partners with American College of Lifestyle Medicine

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) today announced a strategic partnership with education innovator Big Picture Learning to provide Lifestyle Medicine resources to students in its schools across the U.S. The agreement represents ACLM’s first time to offer information on Lifestyle Medicine—the use of a whole food, plant-predominant dietary lifestyle, regular physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances and positive social connection—to students at the secondary school level.

Big Picture Learning’s vision is that all students live lives of their own design, supported by caring advisors. Big Picture Learning’s mission is to support schools in providing student-directed, real-world learning that realize that vision. Big Picture’s schools address the whole person—mind, body, and heart—by promoting a healthy lifestyle as part of their personal development as members of their local and global community.

Today, there more than 65 Big Picture network schools in the United States and many more around the world, including Australia, the Netherlands, Italy and Canada, utilizing the Big Picture Learning design. Each individual school embodies the fundamental philosophy of Big Picture Learning--that students should be at the center of their own learning.

In an article published in the January/February American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, “A Call to Action for Intermediate and Secondary School Lifestyle Medicine Education: Instating Healthy Teen Behaviors” (Tollefson et al), the authors found that when students understand the authority and control that they hold over their current and future health through personal lifestyle choices, they are more likely to take these choices seriously. Because the authors found student interest in and consideration of behavioral change, they argue that development and implementation of community-engaged Lifestyle Medicine education for intermediate and secondary schools is a promising intervention to address and reverse the growing chronic disease trend among today’s youth.

“Knowledge and intention are not enough, however,” said lead author Michelle Tollefson, MD, FACOG, FACLM, DipABLM. “We need to work together from an interdisciplinary standpoint that includes educators, health professionals, physicians, Lifestyle Medicine undergraduate students, medical students, community leaders, parents, middle and high school student-driven advocacy, and policy makers to educate instructors on the best practices in the field of Lifestyle Medicine health promotion.”

Through the new agreement, Big Picture Learning will be able to connect young people to information that will provide them with heathy lifestyle choices as well as connect them to mentors, organizations and programs in the Lifestyle health-related career fields they are interested in pursuing.

“By reaching teens in middle school and high school with Lifestyle Medicine, we can plant the seeds of healthy living at an early and often confusing time of life,” said ACLM President Dexter Shurney, MD, MBA, MPH, FACLM, DipABLM. “With empowerment, education, and support, students can become catalysts of change in their current and future health, families, broader community, and even future generations. As educators and health experts, we have the knowledge and the innate responsibility to empower and equip students and future generations with this knowledge. The health of our children, teens, and our nation at large is at stake, and together we can facilitate a better future.”

“We are excited about our new partnership with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine,” said Elliot Washor, EdD, co-founder of Big Picture Learning. “It brings a cadre of knowledge and support to Big Picture Learning’s world of student action and voice around the six important evidence-based health pillars of Lifestyle Medicine. We look forward to many years of collaboration with an organization in the health/medical field that, similar to BPL, is dedicated to providing a knowledge-base that decreases health disparities in vulnerable communities and communities of color.”

ABOUT BIG PICTURE LEARNING: Big Picture Learning was established in 1995 when co-founders Dennis Littky and Elliot Washor merged their 30 years of experience as teachers and principals and their distinct national reputations to demonstrate that schooling and education can and should be radically changed. In Big Picture Learning schools, students are at the center their own education. They spend considerable time in the community under the tutelage of mentors and are assessed and evaluated on exhibitions and demonstrations of achievement, on motivation, and on the habits of mind, hand, and heart – reflecting the real- world evaluations and assessments that all of us face in our everyday lives. Today, hundreds of BPL network schools in the United States and around the world work together and in their communities to reimagine and reshape education. Learn more at http://www.bigpicture.org.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF LIFESTYLE MEDICINE: ACLM is the medical professional society for more than 4,500 members dedicated to the advancement and clinical practice of Lifestyle Medicine as the foundation of a transformed and sustainable health care system. Lifestyle Medicine is the use of a whole food, plant-predominant dietary lifestyle, regular physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances and positive social connection as a primary therapeutic modality for treatment and reversal of chronic disease.

More than a professional association, ACLM is a galvanized force for change. ACLM addresses the need for quality education and certification, supporting its members in their individual practices and in their collective mission to domestically and globally promote Lifestyle Medicine as the first treatment option, as opposed to a first option of treating symptoms and consequences with expensive, ever increasing quantities of pills and procedures. ACLM members are united in their desire to identify and eradicate the root cause of disease. Learn more at http://www.LifestyleMedicine.org.