A Lesson Plan from Life Planning Education: A Youth Development Program
Purpose: To learn about good health and hygiene practices
Materials: Copies of the handout, “Health Matching Game,” (pdf) for each participant, Leader's Resource, "Adolescent Health & Hygiene" (pdf); samples of personal products (sanitary pads and tampons, athletic supporter, deodorants, skin cleansers and products, and products for “jock itch”.); pamphlets (see last planning note below); pertinent questions from the Question Box about sexual/reproductive health
Time: 40-50 minutes
- Provide an opportunity for teens to ask questions about hygiene and discuss personal concerns in same gender groups. While young teens need an opportunity to talk “across the gender gap” about many topics, they also need time among same gender peers to help them feel comfortable about asking personal questions concerning their own bodies and health.
- Ideally, follow this activity with a question/answer session for separate groups of male and female participants. You will need a co-leader of the other gender to help lead this activity and conduct the discussion with one of the groups. The co-leader can be someone your group knows and likes or someone new. The person should be trained in reproductive health and sexuality education. Clarify that the co-leader must abide by the ground rules, including remaining non-judgmental and keeping confidentiality.
- If your participants have difficulty reading, you may want to list each behavior and explanation aloud, then review the list of behaviors so teens can choose the correct one.
- Call your local health department, affiliate of the American Cancer Society or other reproductive health center to obtain pamphlets for each participant on breast or testicular self-examination. Request other health education materials appropriate for teens.
- If you are going to separate your group by gender for a question/answer session after this activity, explain why and introduce your co-leader. This will reassure teens who wish to ask intimate questions later. Point out that you are not separating by gender because they should not discuss certain subjects, but rather, because most teens want a chance to discuss personal hygiene with people of the same gender.
- Ask participants to give examples of things people their age do for their health and hygiene that they did not do when they were children. (Answers may include: menstrual hygiene, bathing more often or using deodorant to avoid body odor, carefully cleaning skin to avoid pimples, shaving, wearing a bra or an athletic supporter and so on.)
- Tell the group that you want to see how much they already know about the health behaviors adolescents and adults practice. Distribute the handout and go over the instructions:
Go over the first example with the group. Ask something like, “Does masturbation really help prevent acne by eliminating blackheads? No! So what can help prevent acne?” You do not have to give the right answer, just get the teen pairs started. Have teens begin working. Circulate to help any pair with clarification, if necessary. After 15 minutes, call “time” and go over the handouts, asking participants for the matching explanation. Add information from your Leader's Resource, as appropriate. (You may want to give more detail about certain items when you get into same gender groups.) As you discuss a behavior, display any relevant personal products and pass them around so teens can become familiar with them. Ask for any comments, then separate into same gender groups for further discussion, using the Discussion Points and participants' questions. Be sure to distribute any available pamphlets to teens.
- Choose a partner to work with.
- Look at the 15 health behaviors in the left hand column. Next to each behavior, in the right hand column, is the explanation for a health or hygiene practice.
- At first glance, it looks like many of the pairs of behaviors and explanations belong together, yet, only one pair is correctly matched. All the others are incorrect. Some are very tricky!
- Read each behavior in the left column and decide if the explanation beside it matches that behavior. If not, find the appropriate explanation in the right column.
- Write the number of the behavior in the box next to the appropriate information that matches it.
- What did you learn from this activity that surprised you?
- What is a health behavior that is important enough to tell a brother or sister or friend about?
- Is there anything you learned today that your parent(s) or friends would disagree with? Things that they do differently than the way you just learned? How will you handle that?
- Is there any health behavior discussed in this activity that people in your culture are taught to do differently? What does your culture teach about that particular behavior? Why do you think that is so?
Adapted with permission from Teen Outreach: Youth Development Through Service and Learning, New York, N.Y.: Association of Junior Leagues, Ins., 1994.