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World Health Day is an annual event celebrating the day the World Health Organization (WHO) ratified its constitution, April 7. To celebrate this occasion, WHO hosts events across the globe that share a health-related theme. In 2011, the theme was the global spread of microbial resistance. Previous themes have included urbanisation, climate change and road safety. When discussing these themes with children in primary school, focus on positive prospects and actions that have measurable impact.
WHO provides many educational materials, including fact sheets and video clips, which you may use during your assembly (see Resources). However, these materials are generally designed for adult audiences. Tailor the presentation for children by omitting content that parents might find offensive. For example, for a road safety presentation exclude graphic images of accidents and focus on photos that show the proper way to cross a street, sit in a car or signal turns from a bicycle. You may obtain photographs from a stock image database or take photos of your own children. Using your pupils in your presentation keeps your audience involved and invested in the day's activities.
Break down the theme into manageable segments. The themes chosen for World Health Day are too broad to cover in a single assembly. Select the most relevant subtopics to cover during your presentation. For example, if the theme is climate change and health, cover one or two health-related problems caused by climate change (for example, malnutrition and extreme weather). Provide several actionable solutions for each. Help pupils set goals that are sustainable, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.
WHO is about supporting and educating the global community. Foster this sense of volunteerism and community in your pupils by leading children in a group activity. Instead of bringing pupils to the auditorium or cafeteria for a lecture-style assembly, go outside and engage in a theme activity. Microbial resistance is a vast topic that addresses the overuse and misuse of antimicrobial substances and the consequent spread of drug-resistant, disease-causing microbes. Organise a game of tag in which pupils are either a sick person, "It" or a healthy person. Use a build-up format like sharks and minnows or British bulldogs, so that tagged students also become "It." The game will conclude with all of the students being "sick." Finish the assembly with a discussion of healthful habits and ways to prevent the spread of germs.
Rely on your community to enrich your celebration of World Health Day. Invite businesses, scientists and related professionals to talk about the theme. Solicit endorsements from local celebrities. Focus your efforts on sharing information about health topics rather than persuading others to make life-altering changes. Lead by example by posting educational posters in your classroom or office. Use your status as an educational institution to get free advertising space on radio and television stations.
- health image by Mykola Velychko from Fotolia.com