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Project SHARE Curriculum: Icebreakers/Discussion

Student Health Advocates Redefining Empowerment

Icebreaker Activities

Icebreaker:  Health Equity (10 Minutes)

Before Class: Inflate a beach ball.  Use a permanent marker to write icebreaker questions on the ball.

Sample questions:

  • What does it mean to be healthy?
  • What does poor health mean?
  • Why are some people healthier than others?
  • What does it mean to be a healthy teen?
  • Why are some teens healthier than others?
  • How does household income influence the health of teens?
  • How does education influence the health of teens?
  • How does neighborhood influence the health of teens?
  • How does a healthy diet contribute to health?
  • How does choosing not to smoke contribute to health?
  • What are the benefits of regular doctors’ visits?
  • How can you improve your health and that of your loved ones?

In Class:

Instruct students to sit in a circle. Toss the ball from student to student a few times. Each time a student catches the ball, have him/her read the question that his/her right thumb lands on, and then answer it.

Have no beach ball handy?  Write questions on slips of paper and put slips in an envelope.  Pass the envelope around the room and have students draw questions and then read and answer them aloud.


Icebreaker: How to Talk About Doctor’s Appointments (5 minutes) 

Engage students in a discussion using the following scenario:

You cut your finger. The cut looks deep and it won’t stop bleeding.  You decide to:

  1. Go to the emergency room at the nearest hospital
  2. Go to an urgent care center
  3. Call your doctor and see if you can get an appointment that day


Icebreaker:  Public Speaking (5 minutes)

Engage students in a discussion prompted by the following question:

Question.  What is the second most feared thing after death? 

Answer.  Public Speaking

Conversation.  Why do you think people are afraid of public speaking?


Icebreaker:  Leadership (5-10 minutes)

Engage students in a discussion prompted by the following question:

Question:  Describe a leader that you admire.  Describe why you think this person is a strong leader. 


Icebreaker:  Advocacy (5-10 minutes)

Describe a time when you advocated for something effectively.  Why do you think you were sus

Engage students in a discussion prompted by the following question:



Ice Breaker: Social Determinants of Health (10 minutes)

Before Class:  Locate two contrasting pictures that illustrate community resources. For instance, two playgrounds – one run-down and the other high-end.  Use these pictures to prompt discussion.

Give students a few minutes to brainstorm about the statement, “health starts in our schools, homes and communities.” Use the contrasting pictures to respond to the statement, or students may consider factors they see in their schools, homes, and communities that affect their personal health.


Hands-On Activity:  Design an Ideal Community (30 minutes)

Students will design an ideal community that fosters the health and wellness of community residents. Working within small groups (2-4 per group), students receive one large sheet of paper to draw their ideal community. The instructor may require the following community staples, or allow students to include them on their own:

  • School
  • Park
  • Hospital or doctor’s office
  • Fire department
  • Police department
  • Housing/residential areas
  • Grocery store


Students may include notes for each item they incorporate, such as programs they would like to see occurring at these different community entities (a summer camp at the local park, for example). They should be able to explain why they include each of their choices and why it would benefit the community.


Question for students to consider:

  • What role do schools play?
  • What role do businesses play?
  • How can businesses support their employees and their community?
  • What role does local government play?
  • What makes a community?
  • What community is important to them?

Guest Speakers

 Add to the variety of classroom experiences by bringing in guest speakers.  Depending on your community, there may be many options for engaging speakers.  Here are ideas that we used in the SHARE program:

  • Faculty members involved in community outreach or who have worked with health disparity programs.
  • Staff from community-based organizations such as food banks or homeless shelters
  • Public health workers
  • Pharmacists
  • Farmers, especially those who farm organically or sustainably
  • Health activists in the community
  • Nutritionists
  • School Nurses
  • Funders of programs promoting health – what are they looking for in programs that they fund.
  • Librarians to speak about quality health information.

Have a certified master gardener give a demonstration on how to create your own kitchen, pot/window, or herb garden. Try contacting the American Horticultural Society can put you in touch with your state’s Master Gardener program, and the United States Department of Agriculture has a list of state Cooperative Extension offices.  They can put you in touch with local experts and programming.   Not sure where this goes.

Scheduling an interdisciplinary panel of health care professionals to talk about the work they do and training required to enter the profession  (don’t limit yourself to physicians and nurses – invite speakers that represent diverse fields such as a dietician, physical therapist, radiologist, psychologist, dental hygienist, pharmacist, veterinary assistant, etc.)

Journal Club

Review and discuss current articles on topics related to health disparities, public health policies, or advocacy programs. Each week, ask students to share a recent article they have read that might be related to the concepts and ideas covered by the curriculum. Journal Club can be organized one of two ways:

  • Every student brings in an article each week or,
  • Individual students are assigned weeks where they are responsible for the article and leading the discussion

The students should be prepared to share: 

  • Title of the article
  • How they located the article
  • Why it was important - is the article the result of a study?  Is it a new public policy?  How it relates to what they’ve learned.
  • Why it interests them.

Sources of articles:

  • Newspapers - print or online
  • Journals/Magazines - print or online
  • Credible online resources with updated heath news such as the National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus or Diversity Healthworks.