Student Involvement in Personal, Family & Community Health

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 discuss ways to engage students in decision-making and problem-solving health topics. We will also explore ways to enhance student involvement in identifying ways to improve personal, family, community health and demonstrate evidence of applied strategies.

Public Health with Ashley

Ashley is a public health nurse who provides outreach and connection between the local health department and the school district. She creates programs to enhance student involvement in their own personal, family and community health interests. A large part of her job is to work with educators to help them increase participation and awareness about health issues that affect their students, such as nutrition, personal safety, mental health and physical wellness.

She knows that students are more likely to engage with the content and incorporate best practices into their own routine when they are involved in the decision-making and problem solving process. This increases students' personal investment and increases the likelihood that they make substantive life improvements.


Nutrition is one of the major facets of personal, family and community health that impacts most students. Ashley has developed a program to address nutritional needs of students that involves approaching the issue from a student, family, school and community perspective that addresses basic sustenance. She includes some critical thinking skills to differentiate between food fads and good science. Add lessons from social studies on food culture and budgeting practice in math for a cross curricular approach in a variety of disciplines.

Students learn to make healthy choices in the grocery store with mock shopping using the food groups as a guide. These skills then go home to the families as interactive experience assignment that applies their learning in a real-word scenario at home. Another helpful strategy is to work with the cafeteria cooks to ensure good nutrition at school meals. Students who rely heavily on these meals will have a good nutritional foundation at school.

Hosting a field trip to the farmers market is a great way to teach healthy nutritional choices
Image of a farmers market

She also provides outreach to families in need to make sure they have enough food. Many families count on the school breakfast and lunch to feed their kids, so when children are home for holidays and weekends, family food supplies can become precarious. By developing connections to community members, Ashley can help connect students to access to resources, meeting their needs outside school.

Personal Safety

Ashley can address personal safety concerns by connecting students and families to personal safety training, usually conducted by social services agencies and police departments. This kind of training helps families prevent abuse and bullying by recognizing the signs and knowing how to respond appropriately.

Everyone in the school should be aware of how to recognize many different kinds of bullying
bullying infographic

She knows that the 'stranger danger' campaigns of the past are not reflective of the fact that most abusive acts perpetrated on students is from someone they know, a relative, a friend or a classmate. Instead she relies on research driven and student directed strategies for bystander awareness. The core of bystander awareness training is 'if you see something, say something' and it relies on recognizing that most people are not perpetrators or victims. Most people are just observers who have the power to stop mistreatment.

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