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Implementing Health Education Advocacy Programs

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

In this lesson, we will explain how to identify opportunities available for health education advocacy programs. We will also include the implementation of curricular and extracurricular programs across a variety of high-interest health-related topics.

Health Education Advocacy

Advocating effectively for health education programs can be done with a multifaceted approach to increase involvement and participation among students to maximize the impact of efforts. Health education can occur across the curriculum and in extracurricular activities.

Advocating for the implementation of such programming can be initiated and directed by students, teachers or community members. Sometimes specific community dynamics might create a need for emphasis on a particular element of health education.

Identifying opportunities for implementing health education advocacy programs can be as simple as recognizing a teachable moment and seizing it.

Teaching Health Across the Curriculum

All the major curriculum subjects connect in some way to health education and teachers can help make these connections by emphasizing where their content is related to health. Teachers can be creative in making these connections to reinforce a school culture that values health education.

  • In social studies, looking at social trends in fitness and nutrition could include identifying healthy food from any culture or historical period.
  • For math, understanding weights and proportions is helpful to both fractions and nutrition, while learning about distances can result in a math activity that involves exercise.
  • For language arts, the options for health education programming extend beyond fitness and nutrition into healthy social and interpersonal relations with so many examples of these themes in poetry and literature.
  • With science, the connection to health education programs is most apparent, and many science projects are focused on some health-related topic.

Freerice.com provides quizzes in lots of content areas while helping those who play end world hunger
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Extracurricular Activities Advocating Health

Many extracurricular activities are opportunities to engage students in advocating for health education. Most activities outside school are directly fitness related like sports, marching band and dance. Even those that don't have direct connections to a health topic can be integrated to include increased advocacy in health education.

Fundraising activities for clubs could ask for sponsorship from local health care providers. Private practice medical professionals often appreciate buying advertising from students to support their activities. Encouraging participation of groups in relevant community health causes can also integrate extracurricular activities into health education advocacy programs.

Enlisting volunteers from student organizations is a great way for communities to engage schools in efforts to end interpersonal violence
image of a fraternity

For example, the chess club could volunteer to play at the retirement home to better understanding aging. Service clubs, fraternities and sororities can create partnerships with local domestic violence shelters to gain awareness about healthy relationships and gather donations.

Student vs. Teacher Directed

Health education advocacy programs require a diverse approach to increase efficacy. In addition to taking advantage of teacher-directed opportunities for health education discussed above, students can develop their own advocacy programs. Students who have a vested interest in a cause may want to take the initiative to create a student-led movement within the school.

Underage cigarette smoking is at historic lows, attributed to a student-directed campaign against tobacco use
image of a smoking student

For example, Students Against Drunk Drivers (SADD) and AlaTeen are types of health education advocacy programs that address alcoholism as a health issue that might benefit students. Other programs to help with peer pressure toward cigarette and drug addiction may also be important health topics that would benefit from student leadership.

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