Vic Strecher Speaks at CHS


On Tuesday, April 3, 2018, Vic Strecher, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, spoke to the Community High School Advanced Health/Public Policy class. His speech was called “Life on Purpose.” Strecher has a PhD in Health Behavior and Health Education, and founded the Center for Health Communications Research at the University of Michigan. Strecher has done multiple Ted Talks, including a TedMed talk in 2009 about behavior change. He has had many obstacles throughout his life; he shared them with the class.  

He began his presentation with a metaphor: the boiling frog. He related frogs in hot water with obesity and climate change. If frogs are put into boiling water, they jump out, but if they are put into increasingly warm water, they get tired, fall asleep, and die. This finding is quite similar to how we don’t notice obesity or climate change right away, it happens over time.

This segues into his next topic of why people are so defensive, and how to overcome it. His three ways to get over a big ego or defensiveness are to “open the bridge;” to have something bad happen which forces the ego to break, or find a purpose bigger than yourself. Strecher then discussed how death makes people think about life. He talked to the class about how the death of his daughter, Julia, forced him to think about his life and his purposes.

Strecher wrote a graphic novel, “On Purpose,” in response to losing his daughter. He spoke to the class about all the steps he took in order to write this story. “On Purpose” shows that positive changes are possible after losing someone close to you.

“This is a lesson for you. Don’t be shy,” Strecher said. “You need to decide what you want to be. You need to decide your purpose.”

Strecher strongly believes that everyone has purposes, which are constantly changing purposes. He helped create the app JoolHealth, which is named after his daughter, Julia.  This app, which he demonstrated to the class, allows its users to think about their purposes, input their feelings throughout the day, and then helps with their individual health and well being. JoolHealth is to help healthy change.

Strecher ended the presentation with a video explaining JoolHealth and time for questions. The students then applauded and thanked him for his time; they were extremely pleased with his presentation.