Introduction to Service

9, 10, 11, 12

Students research the practices of historical service leaders to gather information about effective practices to effect change. They analyze data collected from their surveys and design a campaign to advocate for health in their city.


Lesson Rating 
PrintOne 45-Minute Class Sessions

Learners will:

  • identify national and world leaders.
  • identify qualities of leadership.
  • state how leadership applies to service.
  • analyze collected survey data.
  • books, magazines, and online resources about service leaders such as: Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Rosa Parks, John F. Kennedy, and Nelson Mandela
  • student copies of Lifestyle Logs (Lesson One, Handout 5)
  • student copies of Food Critic: Comparative (Lesson One, Handout 4)
  • copy of Service Project Suggestions(Lesson One, Handout 7)
  • analyze: to examine or study by separating into parts to understand relationships or how elements work together; If we analyze our eating and exercise patterns, we understand how to lead healthier lives.
  • challenge: a contest, battle, or competition, a stimulating task or problem; Our challenge is to teach the whole school that eating healthy will make them healthier, smarter and happier.
  • extraordinary:beyond what is normal or usual; An extraordinary effort is needed to get kids to stop eating sugary snacks.
  • outcome: the final effect, result or consequence of a process or series of actions; One hoped-for outcome of our efforts is more gym time during school for all classes.
  • tone: a style or manner of expression in speech and writing; She directed the groups using a warm but forceful tone of voice.

Students maintain journals and write their reflections after each session.

Journal Question 8: 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. Ask each student to give one example of how they have acted as a leader in this Healthy Communities unit, or how they plan to act as leaders in the future.


  1. Session One:

    Anticipatory Set: (Estimated Time: 20 minutes)

    Brainstorm with students what it means to be a leader. Discuss the definition of leader and give examples. Go around the room, randomly calling on students to name a leader and a leadership quality that person has.

  2. The following cooperative game requires the whole group to work together to untangle themselves. Students stand in circles of up to ten players. Players in each circle stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their arms extended in front of them. Then players join hands with the hands of two different people on the opposite side of the circle. This is the knot. The challenge is to untangle the knot without letting go of the hands. Players will have to duck under or over, twist or turn. Sometimes the knot can’t be untangled. If after 10 minutes, the knot is not untangled, the facilitator may help by momentarily “cutting” one link, and then reconnect it. (Platts, David Earl, as cited by Maheshvarananda, Dada. “Cooperative Games that Teach Solidarity.” New Renaissance Magazine. Vol. 11, No. 3, issue 38, Autumn, 2002)

  3. Ask the following reflection questions:

    • What was the most challenging aspect of this game? (Answers may include figuring out what to do first, undoing a move that didn't help, trying to listen to lots of people at once.)
    • Who made suggestions? (Answers will vary.) What was their tone? Did everyone follow the suggestion? Why or why not?
    • What might have made the game easier? (Answers may include appointing one leader or guide.)
  4. Play again, with a leader chosen by the group or teacher, and compare the outcomes.

  5. Reporting: Have students share their research from the previous session.

  6. Focus Activity One (Estimated Time: 35 minutes)

  7. Have students work in small groups of 3 or 4 to brainstorm a list of world, national, or local leaders. Leaders may include people whose service is well known (Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, President John F. Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, and Bono) but also those who have made a difference in less recognized ways (teachers, coaches, family members, and friends).

  8. After groups list leaders, have them select two to research. They may access books and library and online resources for information. Have the group work together to write a paragraph about what the leaders did and why they chose them.

  9. Have groups read their paragraphs. Then ask the class to brainstorm qualities that make a leader.

  10. Then ask, “What does health have to do with leadership?” Explore whether you have to be a healthy role model to be a health leader. Remind students that some people become leaders because they are unwell: the Michael J. Fox Foundation helps raise money for a cure to Parkinson Disease. Breast Cancer research groups have been started by women who have the disease.

  11. 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 such as Lance Armstrong’s Live Strong bracelets, posters, and public service announcements.)

  12. Discuss unusual ways to promote a public service. For example, celebrities donate their time and fame to promote causes. City transit displays poetry on buses and in subways cars to promote the pleasures of reading.

  13. Distribute copies of Lifestyle Logs for students to complete before the next session.

  14. Reporting: Identify and record (or summarize) in journals a public service ad, poster, or commercial seen in the neighborhood, read in a magazine, or seen/heard on TV or the radio.

  15. Focus Activity Two (Estimated time: 30 minutes)

  16. Have students sit with the people with whom they conducted the community health survey in the previous lesson. Give the groups the surveys done by different teams.

  17. Have groups collate the data on a tally chart, bar graph, or other visual to summarize the information. List the survey questions and number of respondents by gender and age, and responses.

  18. Bring all the data together on one graph. As a group, share and summarize the data.

  19. Determine from the results what the three most pressing neighborhood health needs are.

  20. Review the different ways students have already shared information with the other classes in the school (bulletin board, posters, comics, etc.) Review ways local, national, and world leaders have made a difference (review Session One, above).

  21. Put the class into six small groups. Assign each group one of the three identified community health needs. (There will be two groups focusing on each identified need.) Have them brainstorm ways to address that need.

  22. Have groups working on the same need pool their ideas and develop a master list, starring their three best ideas.

  23. Then have groups share their best ideas. Record them on chart paper to use for the next session.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.