Our story began with a simple question,
that led to curiosity, which turned the
page toward a viable, large-scale solution....that can now rewrite
Physical Education's story.
Told by founder Jen Ohlson
On a warm October day in 2008, I had just finished a workout with my longtime running group at RunTex, the premiere running store in Austin, Texas. The store’s owner, and our coach, Paul Carrozza has helped everyone from President Bush to age-group runners improve. On that particular day, Governor Rick Perry, myself and Paul sat on the deck and preformed a common ritual of trying to figure out how to change the world for the better. Most of the ideas never left the deck.
But on this day, one did.
Results from the newly implemented, FITNESSGRAM had recently been released. The state-mandated physical education test, in which every student in grades 3rd – 12th took, which measured six basic components of a child’s overall fitness and health.
Statewide results found that approximately 32% of third-grade girls and less than 28% of third-grade boys reached the “Healthy Fitness Zone.” By seventh grade, only 21% of the girls and 17% of the boys still met this achievement level. By 12th grade, just 8% of the girls and less than 9% of the boys met the health standards in all six tests.
Governor Perry threw out a query “How are we going to improve on these statistics and reverse the health trends our children are facing?”
Having spent my career as a story-teller focused on health and fitness; first as the owner of a media production company, then as a TV sportscaster, next as the author of "Every Town Needs a Trail", a coffee-table book focused on health and community, and most recently, writing and directing an educational documentary on childhood health issues entitled "Health Needs a Hero", I’ve developed a unique talent to bring things to life. In each case, I didn’t create the story, it was already there. I only uncovered it and presented it in a simple, understandable way so that everyone could relate to it and be a part of it.
For me, the answer to the question was easy.
Solving the obesity epidemic is not about offering grand solutions and billion dollar strategies at a 50-thousand foot level, but instead about simple things that work. It’s about practical ideas that build upon already established efforts and meet people where they live their lives. Most importantly, it’s about making health really matter to everyone involved…and the best way to do that is to build the "story" about each individual, using their own body and in motion and delivering that information in the "language" they understand. For kids, that primary language is technology.
While home is the best place to build that story, school is the most logical.
While working with school administrators and physical education experts over the next year to revolutionize PE curriculums, I became inspired to increase the use of technology in the PE classroom to accurately track and measure individual student effort and activity. I began to envision a powerful physical education tool that would not only capture, store and deliver vital physical activity data but also provide students, parents, teachers and administrators with a comprehensive, day-by-day profile of student health information. In essence, develop a system that could be a total PE solution, delivering individual training in a group setting. A system that could also integrate nutrition information, correlate back to academic and attendance success, and be effortless and simple to use for all participants. Lastly, ongoing support and community partnerships would ensure long-term sustainability and success.
From this idea IHT and its “Spirit System” was formed.
Based in Austin, Texas under the leadership of CEO Ben Bentzin and our combined vision, along with the expertise and talent of our incredible team, Interactive Health Technologies’ strives to revolutionize Physical Education classrooms for the 21st century, while building strong partnerships with school districts, corporations, and individuals to meet their preventative healthcare goals. Our overall goal is to play a major role in helping write the next chapter of the story: making PE and Health the 5th requirement; as important as Math, Science, English and Social Studies.
Now that would be a story book ending for children, their families and our collective future.