Healthy Living Strand

The 2015 H&PE curriculum provides educators with an opportunity to integrate multiple aspects of healthy living and well-being by clustering expectations to connect with the skills students need for good overall health. As a result, the approach to learning becomes skill based rather than content based.

The focus of the learning in the healthy living strand – helping students understand health concepts, make healthy choices, and make connections for healthy living – is described in the overall expectations. The specific expectations are organized around these three overall expectations, and this learning is grouped into four content areas - Healthy Eating; Personal Safety and Injury Prevention; Substance Use, Addictions, and Related Behaviours; and Human Development and Sexual Health. Elements regarding mental health and emotional well-being are part of learning in all content areas and across the whole curriculum.

The following chart illustrates horizontal learning by topic as well as vertical learning across topics, connecting to broader ideas as represented in overall expectations.

Topic C1. Understanding Health Concepts C2. Making Healthy Choices C3. Making Connections for Healthy Living

Healthy Eating

C1.1 Connection to holistic health: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual [PS, CT]

C2.1 Healthy eating plans [PS, CT]

C3.1 Food and beverage choices–environmental, social factors [IS, CT]

Personal Safety and Injury Prevention

C1.2 Technology–benefits and risks, safe us [IS, CT]


C3.2 Mental health concerns– warning signs and responses [PS, IS]

C3.3 Responding to bullying/harassment (including sexual harassment, gender-based violence, homophobia, racism) [PS, IS, CT]

Substance Use, Addictions, and Related Behaviours

C1.3 Resilience–protective and risk factors [PS, CT]


C3.4 Social influences; decision-making, communication skills [IS, CT]

Human Development and Sexual Health

C1.4 Preventing pregnancy and STIs

C1.5 Factors affecting gender identity and sexual orientation; supports [PS]

C2.2 Relationships–skills and strategies [PS, IS]

C2.3 Thinking ahead about sexual health, consent, personal limits [PS, CT]


The 2015 H&PE curriculum  presents health concepts in a holistic way. Students are encouraged to consider the ways their health and well-being are interconnected with physical, cognitive, emotional, spiritual, and social elements of their lives. They are also reminded that making healthy choices and living an active life can prevent many health issues and illnesses including chronic diseasesi.

Learning in this strand is organized by overall expectations. The emphasis is on having students understand health topics so they can apply that knowledge to make informed choices about their own healthy growth and development. They are also guided to recognize the connections between their personal health, the health of others, and the social, environmental, and other health-influencing factors in the world around themii. Educators have an opportunity to organize student learning in new ways: Instead of planning lessons specific to one health topic, they can use a “vertical” learning approach in which the overall expectations are the central organizing element to which specific health content is linkediii. Even if an educator chooses to organize instruction based on one health topic at a time, the focus of the learning should always be on the overall expectations: Healthy Living and Living Skills.

The Healthy Living strand helps secondary students understand the factors that contribute to their health and also encourages them to take responsibility for their lifelong health. It helps them learn to recognize the consequences of decisions they make related to their health on others and their community as well as the affect of others and their community on themselves. While their learning is focused on health knowledge, the higher-level thinking connected to the application of skills is emphasized even more. To acquire health literacy, students need to practice many skills, including effective communication, limiting risk, and building protective factors as well as self-awareness, adaptive, management and coping, social, and critical-thinking skills. Other skills are addressed in this strand, such as setting goals that are directly related to their personal health and well-being, and learning how to establish, develop, nurture, and maintain healthy relationships. Practising all of these skills will, in turn, increase students’ resilience as they confront challenges throughout their lives.

i, ii Ontario Ministry of Education. (2015). The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 to 12: Health and Physical Education (revised), page 38. Retrieved from:

iii Ontario Ministry of Education. (2015). The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 to 12: Health and Physical Education (revised), page 39. Retrieved from: