Exploring Local Health Issues

Purpose of the Activity

This activity focuses on learning about health issues in the local news, expanding students' views and providing "the perspective of experts."

Students have already given their initial ideas of what health issues are impacting their community. Now they will review Erie County Data and read news articles about health issues in the Buffalo area. This way students will gain an awareness of the health problems specific to his/her community, preparing them to then have an "informed" brainstorm of topics for the PSA and Grant.

Organizational Note:

  • The Math teacher might want to do the Erie County Health Data activity extensions for graphing and percents (see below) during Content Lab time.
  • Please do not go on to the Choosing a Health Issue activities until you have finished both of these activities.

Desired Outcomes:

  • Process: Students connect personally to the content
  • Process: Students have an increased understanding of the health issues that effect their community
  • Process: Students begin generating ideas for the health topic they will select for the remainder of the unit

The Process

Total time frame: 2-3 Project Blocks (without extensions)

Step 1: Reviewing Erie County Health Data

  1. Have students download the two spreadsheets containing health data on Erie County (Accessible from the CCGH student website or from here and here);
  2. Review with students basic spreadsheet use and terms (row, column, cell, etc.);
  3. Have students define each of the conditions or illnesses (the Internet will be helpful);
  4. At this point, ask students to find out how many people live in Erie County (it might be a good opportunity to discuss strategies for finding information on the Internet);
  5. Ask students to examine the numbers in the spreadsheets and ask them what conclusions they can draw.

Extensions: This would be a great time for the Math teacher to introduce appropriate charts and graphs that can be generated from the data and how to do it using Excel. It might also be a good time to introduce the idea of percent and generate some simple percents from the data.

Note: these two spreadsheets have been distilled from Erie County data. The complete report is available here, but contains data on suicides and homicides, to which our students may be sensitive.

Step 2: Community Health Issues in the News

  1. Using online local media (newspapers and news stations), have students search for news stories related to health issues (Several newspapers and news stations are linked from the CCGH student website;
  2. Each student should find one story to watch/read and prepare a summary for the rest of the class;
  3. Have students present their summaries on a community health issue to the class;
  4. Have a class discussion about the news stories and make a list of appropriate health issues.

Note: Originals of Health Issues in the News Activity (PDF)


Solving Health Problems in Your Community, Health Career Resource Center, pp.17, 18, 53 (download PDF)
Erie County Department of Health, Statistics & Data.

Teacher Resources