The Greatest Wealth Is Health


At first glance, health and wellness education at schools is nothing new. The importance of health as a prerequisite to learning for the full is a matter of common knowledge. Why would Salem International Boarding School stand out in this aspect? Read on for an insight into the unique principles of an awarded health and wellbeing concept.

In fact, Salem stands out for its whole school approach to the inner wellbeing of children and adolescents. The school actually gives as much importance to health topics as it does to the academic programme in the German grammar school system, which leads pupils to either the German Abitur or the English International Baccalaureate Diploma. Yet, Salem health and wellness education goes beyond a school life: Whenever a person feels totally in balance, they are able to confront negativity and life’s challenges much more easily. Salem’s health curriculum comprises a learning process from grade 5 to 12 that both challenges and allows digesting.

There are three core themes in Salem’s holistic approach: “Health and Wellbeing”, “Living in the Wider World”, and “Relationships”. All three of them accompany a pupil’s life from grade 5 onwards until graduation, in age-appropriate ways. Theme number one tackles challenges to the individual, such as transitioning to Salem, puberty, sex education, nutrition, addictions, stress management, identity and self-esteem. Theme number two broadens horizons by addressing conflict resolution, interpersonal skills, safety issues in the digital as well as the real world, and diversity. Pupils are encouraged to consider being different an enrichment, not a stigma. Core theme number three makes the whole approach round by fostering awareness, healthy relationships, respectful communication, a positive self-identity, and mental health.

In order to realize the implementation of these themes in the whole boarding school, Salem has a highly sophisticated organizational structure, headed by health coordinators who continuously update the school’s health curriculum, gather resources, and initiate and maintain external contacts. A health team of professionals brings expertise and high standards into the school, acting as a task force by delivering workshops, teaching lessons and supporting professional staff development. The list of external partners is long, ranging from local police, the Caritas, LGBTTIQ+ support groups, addiction prevention consultancies, to Fit4Future counselling for a healthy lifestyle, just to name a few. Salem disposes of a digital online health and wellbeing library providing online resources, lesson plans and activities for all year groups, with cross curriculum links. The school medical center complements this organizational structure with a resource library that provides showcases, display boards, games, booklets and support in supervising the effects of the above named principles.

Looking at Salem’s Health and Wellness Concept from a bird’s-eye view, this goes beyond teaching scientific facts and essential knowledge. An effective health curriculum rather creates a non-judgmental and non-assuming learning environment, a safe place to exchange learning for the now and future living. Being a pupil in Salem therefore is a privilege in various ways. Some pupils might have lead a privileged life before transitioning to Salem as well. Knowing that with privilege, there come expectations, sometimes even stress. The privilege of learning in Salem is about the freedom to make choices in life. It is about developing the whole being that someone is, the whole personality of a young person very capable of facing life as an adult. The greatest wealth that someone can hold, in fact, is health.

By Dr. Stephanie Nau, Head of Admissions

Photographer: Ilja Mess

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