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Guide to Contextual Learning Projects

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Environmental literacy
Media literacy
Health literacy
Economic literacy
Civic literacy
Computer Technology
Data Analysis
Writing Skills
Creative and Critical Thinking

Health Literacy

In today’s economy, many businesses, organizations and career paths are focused on ways of promoting and preserving personal and community health. From renewed attention on healthy eating to programs for exercise and relaxation to holistic approaches to healthcare and prevention, people are more interested then ever in ways of promoting health.

“Health literacy” is an important skill for youth — not only because being health-savvy is important personally, but also because knowledge of health issues can be valuable for career success and career growth. All kinds of organizations — grocery stores, fitness centers, youth sports programs, food banks, community gardening programs, schools and healthcare organizations — value employees who can guide customers and develop marketing and educational materials to promote health and wellness.

Contextual Learning Projects. Students explore health literacy through a variety of classroom and community projects as described in the Contextual Learning Portal. For example:

  • Elementary school students organized an Elementary School Health Fair at Union 61, a school serving Brimfield, Brookfield, Holland, Sturbridge and Wales. As part of this project, students selected topics, invited presenters, created exhibits, wrote press releases and developed publicity, managed the event and evaluated the success of the event.
  • Students from Whitman-Hanson Regional School conducted a project about hunger in their community. Students needed to do initial research on healthy eating recommendations, WIC and food stamp information, poverty income guidelines, as well as the cost of food items based on local supermarket circulars. Students participated in a panel symposium in which they taught each other what they had learned through their in-class study, and later heard from experts on the topic of local hunger. They were able to ask questions of the panel and gain a greater understanding of hunger facts within their communities.
  • Students from several schools have organized anti-bullying projects, creating healthier environments for their fellow students.
  • Students from several schools and after-school programs have participated in exercise, nutrition, cooking, community gardening and other health-related programs.

Workplace Experiences. Examples of youth gaining experience in health literacy issues include:

  • Understanding exercise and movement as applied in physical therapy clinics and fitness centers;
  • Promoting good health through leadership in youth sports programs;
  • Helping to plan and prepare nutritious meals in a culinary arts program, restaurant, youth program or nursing home;
  • Working on public education and peer leadership campaigns in programs related to health and wellness;
  • Working on a nutrition newsletter, articles and events for a supermarket chain;
  • Working with the school nurse to promote health through a school-wide newsletter and school web page;
  • Maintaining a file of health information resources for the school nurse’s office;
  • Working in medical research projects;
  • Conducting surveys related to health and wellness issues.
  • Working in internships in healthcare, pharmacy, dental care and other settings.