Advocacy, Recognition, Prevention through Art and Health

This lesson is designed to coincide with an Art project using installation art. Students learn about cancer in health class, survey the school community to find out about the impact of cancer, and then educate their peers about what they have learned. Students work with art students to create an art installation. Advocacy is an important goal of health education. By working with students from art on the installation, students can help others recognize the amount of people that are affected by cancer. By doing so, students may be able to voice concerns with family and or help others think about their risk and ways to reduce their risks. Working with art allowed students to not only give factual information but send a heartfelt message visually and verbally through recognizing the prevalence and the stretch of where cancer has affected the local community. Students gain the knowledge and the ability to reach a many through their bulletin board, classroom surveys, and helping put together the installation project. Student driven research and awareness allowed two curriculums to come together.

Waterloo Middle School

Grade Level:  Middle School

Estimated Time:
Three class periods plus additional time as needed to complete surveys and help art students with art installation.

Connections to CEP’s Eleven Principles:
Creates a caring school community (Principle 4)

Provides students with opportunities for moral action (Principle 5)

Fosters shared moral leadership (Principle 9)

Connections to Core Values:  Caring; Cooperation 

Lesson Objectives

Students will:

  • answer the Essential Question: What is cancer and who can be affected?
  • analyze how the environment impacts personal health, describe how family history can impact personal health, describe ways to reduce or prevent injuries and other adolescent health problems, and explain how appropriate health care can promote personal health.
  • state a health enhancing position on a topic and support it with accurate information, demonstrate how to influence and support others to make positive health choices, work cooperatively to advocate for healthy individuals, families, and schools.

Materials Needed

  • Copies of survey
  • Materials for creating a bulletin board
  • Materials about cancer and/or computers with internet access for completing research on cancer


  1. Discuss one of the leading causes of illness for adults:  cancer. Have students gather information about cancer, behaviors or factors that put one at risk for cancer, and what one can do to reduce the risk of developing cancer.
  2. Students survey the school community to find out how many people know someone who has suffered from cancer. By having students survey others in the school, they can see the prevalence of cancer in our lives and how it affects others. This personalizes the research and importance of the need for advocacy.
  • With this information, students put together a bulletin board with important information about cancer and its prevalence in our lives. Students advocate for community health by posting important information.
  • To coincide with this idea of awareness in the month of May/June, the art teacher teaches students a lesson on installation art. Installation art can be used to make an artistic statement as well as create awareness or offer interpretation. Students work together to build felt banners that held hearts with the names of people who suffered, survived, or passed from cancer. The banners are then hung in the trees around the campus. The hearts can be sold for a dollar each and the money donated to the Relay for Life.


Discussion, survey results, and bulletin board.

Download Lesson Plan


Anna Dennis, health teacher at Waterloo Middle School, a 2008 National School of Character, wrote this lesson.

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