Caring for Community Health

6, 7, 8

Students explore what it means to be responsible citizens and identify ways they are (or can be) responsible at home, in school, and in the community. They create a survey related to people's perceptions of community health and poll members of the community to identify needs.

PrintTwo 45-Minute Class Sessions

Learners will be able to:

  • define and give examples of responsible citizenship.
  • reflect on community-building games to determine the attributes of effective and respectful teamwork. 
  • develop questions and conduct a survey to collect data on community needs.
  • reflect on the survey results leading to a service project related to community health.
Teacher Preparation 

In the survey experience, prepare students with safety rules and tell them to interview only adults that they know, or have an adult accompany them.

Not all students feel comfortable administering the public survey. Discuss other options students may do besides the survey, for example:

  • Plan to attend a community meeting. Listen and take notes on community needs and concerns.
  • Interview senior citizens—sometimes those who have lived in communities longest have good perspective about important needs. Remember to prepare carefully before any interview by thinking about and discussing what you will ask, and how you plan to pose questions.
  • responsible: worthy of trust
  • responsible citizen: a trusted member of a community who obeys laws and respects and helps others
  • trust: confidence or faith in a person or thing
  • leader: a person who has influence and acts in ways that others look up to
  • public service announcement: an advertisement broadcast on radio or television, intended to change attitudes by raising awareness about specific issues
  • service: useful work that one is not paid for
  • community: a group of people who share interests and goals and work together
  • community needs: conditions that are essential to improving a community
  • health: the state of being in sound body, mind, and spirit
  • observation: an act of recognizing and noting a custom, fact, or occurrence
  • survey: a formal examination of the details of something to determine its character
Home Connection 

Students may take their survey home to interview adult family members and neighbors.


Students write reflections on one of the following:

  • A genie grants you 3 wishes for your community. What do you wish for and why?
  • What do trust and responsibility have to do with healthy living?
  • Name a leader (local, national, world) that you admire. What qualities do you share?
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.” Discuss with students what they learned about big and small ways they can act as leaders in their community. 

Maheshvarananda, Dada. “Cooperative Games that Teach Solidarity.” New Renaissance Magazine. Vol. 11, No. 3, issue 38, Autumn, 2002


  1. Anticipatory Set: (Estimated Time: 10 minutes) Ask students what it means to be responsible (being worthy of trust). Then ask students what it means to be a responsible citizen (being a trusted member of a community who obeys the laws and respects and helps others). Tell the students that for the class to design, develop and execute a service project, there must be trust and responsibility among all the participants. Discuss why trust makes a service project more successful.

  2. Play a silent cooperative game called Student Drivers that develops trust and responsibility. Move desks or tables to the sides of the room. Pair students. One person is the car. The car stands with his or her eyes closed and hands held in front of the chest with palms outward – these are the car’s bumpers. The other person in the pair is the driver. The driver stands behind with hands on the shoulders of the car. The driver, with eyes open, steers the sightless car around the room and must avoid collisions with other car-and-driver pairs.

  3. Remind student drivers that the safety of the car is their responsibility. When the facilitator says, “Go,” both car and drivers move silently around the room. After 3 or 4 minutes, the facilitator says, “Stop.” Cars and driver switch roles and repeat. Optional: use music to indicate go and stop. 

  4. Ask the following reflection questions:

    • At the beginning of the game, how did it feel to be the sightless car? (Answers may include: scary, unsure, nervous, afraid to move.)
    • How did it feel after a minute or two? (not as scary) Why? (Answers may include: Because we didn't bump into anyone else, I began to trust my driver, I felt I was in good hands.)
    • At the beginning of the game, how did it feel to be the driver responsible for the car? (Answers may include: unsure, awkward, nervous.)
    • How did it feel after a minute or two? (not as scary) Why? (Answers may include: Because I was not bumping into others, I saw that other drivers were also being careful, I got more confident.)
    • In what way did the whole class work together? (Answers may include: We moved around the room and each other without collisions. It was fun. It felt good to succeed as a group.)
  5. Write the word responsible on the board. Then have each student use it in a sentence about something he or she is responsible for. For example, I am responsible for taking out the trash. Challenge students to each write a list of at least a dozen ways they are responsible at home, at school, and in the community.

  6. Ask, “What does healthy living have to do with leadership?” Discuss how leaders have influenced healthy living. 

    Explore whether you have to be a healthy role model to be a health leader. (Some people become leaders because they are unwell: Michael J. Fox helps raise money for a cure to Parkinson Disease. Breast Cancer research groups have been started by women who have the disease.)

  7. Brainstorm ways groups raise awareness and money for their causes. (This may include rallies, sit-ins, hunger strikes, nonviolent demonstrations, walks-a-thons, letter-writing campaigns, selling products, and posters.)

  8. Tell the students that before influencing the needs of the community, they have to be sure they understand what the community needs. They will do this by conducting a survey of people at school, at home, and in the community. Brainstorm a list of community health needs (identified in the previous lesson). The needs may be related to availability of resources and knowledge about healthy food, exercise, safety, relaxation, and healthy social interaction. 

  9. Move the class into groups of three to five students. Each group develops a survey/interview form they will use to ask people in the community in order to assess whether the community's health needs are met. Tell students to list survey questions about food, nutrition, and exercise. Sample questions:

    • Can you name the five food groups that make up a healthy diet?
    • Where do you buy fresh fruits and vegetables?
    • On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being poor and 5 excellent, how would you rate the produce in community markets?
    • What form of exercise do you do regularly?
    • Where do you exercise in the neighborhood?
    • On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being poor and 5 excellent, how would you rate the places to exercise in the community?
    • How do you interact with people?
    • On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate social opportunities in the community?
    • What do you do to relax and where in the community do you meet that need?
  10. Work together as a group to come up with 10 good survey questions that will help them identify the needs in the community related to all aspects of health.

    • Make a copy of the questions and duplicate 10-12 copies for each student (or pair of students). Give students clipboards for their surveys. Then have students role-play asking and answering questions and conducting interviews in preparation for administering the survey during the next session.
    • Brainstorm ways to identify themselves and their data gathering project when they do go out. 
  11. Discuss procedures and safety measures for surveying people. Only survey people they know. Discuss what they have seen other survey takers doing. How do they act? (polite and friendly) What do they ask? (e.g., Do you have a minute for Greenpeace?) 

    Have students work with partners to conduct the survey in different locations in the community. Have other adults available to oversee the students as they collect data.

  12. After the survey, reflect on the experience. What was challenging? Did it get easier? Did they speak to more women or men? Were any of the answers they heard surprising? Combine and analyze the results and determine together what the areas of greatest need are. 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibilities.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Describe the task and the student role.