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Health Advocacy

How can we as individuals identify and address the major health issues in our community?

The T-SCORE Health Advocacy Unit Plan has five modules:

  1. Health Advocacy Introductory: Module I provides an overview of the factors or “root causes” that influence health by reviewing different case scenarios and introduces students to examples of health advocacy.
  2. Food Deserts: Module II allows students to discover the prevalence of food deserts in their local community, determine the factors that create food deserts, and provides students with the opportunity to practice gathering data through various authentic methods such as PhotoVoice, community health assessment, and observational interviewing.
  3. Violence as a Public Health Issue: Module III students analyze local data to discover the effects of violence on the community, research the risk and protective factors that contribute to different types of violence, and advocate for a solution to community violence of their choosing by writing a letter to a community stakeholder.
  4. Smoking and the Media: Module IV offers students the opportunity to think critically about how perception impacts health behaviors, analyze local and state tobacco data, deconstructing tobacco advertisements to uncover the techniques used, and apply those techniques to counter-messaging to develop an anti-smoking public service announcement.
  5. Health Advocacy Project Development: In Module V students integrate the knowledge of local health issues and advocacy skills obtained in the previous modules to create and present an advocacy project that impacts an important health issue faced by the local community.

Main Objectives

  • Examine the root causes that affect health outcomes by diving in depth into three examples of health issues: food deserts, violence, and tobacco;
  • Make connections to health issues both broadly and in their local community;
  • Practice authentic data gathering and analysis skills applicable to community health advocacy, including photo-voice, community health assessments, observational interviews, and assessing community stakeholders;
  • Practice advocating for better health by writing letters to community stakeholders and creating public service announcements; and
  • Choose their own public health issue and apply advocacy principles to create an advocacy project that impacts their community.

Unit Lesson Plan

Unit Overview

Lesson 1: "Health Advocacy Introduction"

This lesson introduces students into the concepts of how social, cultural, economic, and political factors can influence our definitions of “health” and “healthy.” Using this knowledge, students will be able to identify how unequal distribution of resources can impact groups belonging to specific social categories.

Key Information:

  1. The various factors (social, cultural, political) that impact into our perceptions of health
  2. How to best advocate for changes to healthcare systems
  3. What it means to live a “healthy” lifestyle
Lesson 1 Resources

Lesson 2: "Food Deserts"

This lesson introduces students into the concept of food deserts and how neighborhoods can influence our health. The students will then use this information to gather data about their own neighborhood and the health/eating trends that exist within them.

Key Information:

  1. How our neighborhood can have an influence over the kinds of choice that we make about our own personal health
  2. The social factors that play into an individual’s ability to be healthy (access, affordability, and availability of healthy foods; access to safe places to be active)
  3. The research method as it pertains to collecting social data (data collection, analysis, discussion)
Lesson 2 Resources

Lesson 3: "Violence as a Public Health Issue"

This lesson teaches students that public health issues are not solely associated with nutrition and food, but extend into other phenomena in the community as well. This lesson’s focus will be on how violence impacts the health of individuals in a given community as well. Using the knowledge learned in this lesson, students will then write a letter to a government official/civic leader to raise awareness of violence as a public health issue.

Key Information:

  1. The different kinds of violence that can have an impact on individual and community health
  2. How to best and most effective ways of advocating for change in the community (government officials, school administrators, civic leaders)
  3. Ways to identify the causes and consequences of violence.
Lesson 3 Resources

Lesson 4: "Smoking and the Media"

This lesson will teach students the ways that advertisements (specifically in relation to tobacco) can have an impact on the perceptions we have about drugs. Students will also discuss how an issue like smoking can lead to harmful outcomes for their community, and how to best counter these problems.

Key Information:

  1. How to read statistical data and argue whether or not something is statistically significant compared between two sets of data
  2. The features that go into creating a public service announcement (advertising techniques, statistical data use, advocating for change)
  3. How to critically analyze an advertisement for hidden or underlying messages
Lesson 4 Resources

Lesson 5: "End of Unit Assessment"

This lesson serves as the unit’s summative assessment, culminating all that they have learned throughout the unit into this one final project. For the project, groups will pick an issue in the community and create a presentation that outlines the issue and offers ways for change.

Key Information:

  1. How to identify an issue in the community that has the ability to be changed through personal advocacy
  2. How to work within a group setting and distribute work equally amongst partners
  3. How to tailor a presentation to a specific audience
Lesson 5 Resources


University of Kansas Medical Center
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Kansas City, KS 66160