World Health Day is a global awareness day that is celebrated every year on April 7th to commemorate the founding of the World Health Organization. With all that is going on in the world today, we as teachers need to review the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. It’s a great day for students to get out of their seats and get their blood pumping or enjoy some much need meditation to help with their anxiety. Whether you are in the classroom or teaching your students virtually, these activities will help to promote world health.
What is World Health Day?
World Health Day marks the anniversary of the World Health Organization, which was founded in 1948. The World Health Organization (WHO) is the leading global health authority within the United Nations. The purpose of the organization is to control health and communicable diseases across the globe. The WHO uses their anniversary not only as a day of celebration, but as an opportunity to highlight a current global health priority. For World Health Day 2020, the theme will shine light on the vital role that nurses and midwives play in providing health care around the world.
World Health Day Activities for Kids
World Health Day is the perfect opportunity to educate our students on a variety of health-related issues. Here are a few activities that you can do in the classroom or pass them on to students to do at home.
Thank a Nurse or Midwife
According to the World Health Organization fact sheet, nurses and midwives account for nearly half of the global health workface. Today, nurses are leaving their families who are quarantined at home to be on the frontline and help care for the ill who have been infected with the Coronavirus. Encourage students to the take the time to thank a nurse. Students can handwrite a thank you note and send it to a nurse they know or mail it to a local hospital. Students can also utilize social media to thank a nurse and attach the hashtag #supportnursesandmidwives.
Go for a Hike
Exercise is a very important component in staying healthy. When children are cooped up in the classroom or stuck inside their houses because of the Coronavirus, encourage them to get up and get moving (while at a safe distance apart from others). A hike is the perfect outdoor exercise because not only are you in nature and breathing in fresh air, but you’re also getting your blood flowing which raises your heart rate and your mood, says Harvard Medical School.
Create a World Health Day Campaign
Instruct students to brainstorm ideas on how they can raise awareness about a specific health issue. This can be an issue that is close to their heart or something more general, like healthy eating or staying fit. Students can create a brochure, make a video, or even create a social media campaign. This is a great activity that students can do at home or virtually.
Practice Mindful Meditation
Promoting world health isn’t just about diet and exercise, it’s about promoting mental health as well. In these trying times, students may be feeling anxious because their normal everyday routine has been uprooted by the Coronavirus. To help combat some of that anxiety, students can practice mindful meditation. MindYeti and Headspace are two great tools that can be used both inside and outside of the classroom. MindYeti helps calm students by using animated videos and interesting soundscapes while Headspace uses a soothing voice to help calm students’ thoughts and settle them down.
Promote Healthy Eating
Just as cars need fuel to run properly, our bodies need healthy food to function at their best. It’s important that students learn how nutrition affects their health and how eating the proper foods can not only make them feel better but keep them healthy. A few ways students can do this is by creating a balanced meal of their own. They can scour through grocery ads and magazines and create a healthy meal on a paper plate. They can get ideas by going to Choosemyplate.gov. Another idea is for students to keep a food diary. Since most students are quarantined at home, now is the perfect time to record everything they consume to see if their diet compares to that of the national guidelines.
The World Health Organization needs our support now more than ever. Take the time to teach or share these activities so students can understand that our health is our wealth.
Remote and Virtual Activities for World Health Day
World Health Day is coming at a time when we need more mental health support as the result of the pandemic. Here are a few virtual wellness activities to help celebrate this special day.
Virtual Guided Group Meditation
Meditation has long been recognized for providing many physical and mental health benefits, such as reduction in anxiety and depression, as well as chronic physical pain. Research also shows that meditation helps students become more focused, as well as quiet and calm, which all children can benefit from especially while working remotely. Try a Zoom meditation class with your students. Stop and Breathe has an optional 30-minute donation-based class that guides students (from all over the globe) through a soothing, relaxing mediation experience. This class requires no equipment except for a student’s dedication to try out the practice and reap the benefits.
Virtual Team Building to Support Mental Health
Digital team building activities can help students create bonds and build trust with their classmates, which is a great way to support mental health. Young students would enjoy an online drawing game like Skribbl where you can create a private room and take turns drawing and guessing what other classmates drew. Older students would enjoy a virtual escape room where they work together with their classmates to solve puzzles.
Have a Virtual Lunch and Learn
When students are working remotely, they are missing the experience of bonding with their classmates in the lunchroom, which as you know is quite beneficial for the development of their social and emotional skills. To help support the development of these essential skills, you can celebrate World Health Day with a “lunch and learn” where students vote on a health and wellness topic and discuss this topic over a virtual lunch. It would also be beneficial to invite a guest speaker so students can listen while they eat, then discuss what they’ve learned after lunch.
The Coronavirus pandemic has kept us all home a lot longer than we expected. To help students look for a sense of purpose in these uncertain times, challenge them to volunteer. Research shows that the simple act of volunteering your time can boost your mental health, which at a time like this where many people are isolated at home, can be a great benefit. Online Volunteering is a great site for students to scour how they can put their skills to action. From writing to research to the arts and technology there is something for everyone.
Cards of Kindness
Kindness is contiguous and can help increase serotonin, energy, happiness, and your lifespan. It can also decrease stress, anxiety, and depression. This World Health day spread acts of kindness by creating a class Kudoboard. Each student is randomly given another students’ name and must write and send the organizer (the teacher) a positive message about the person they were assigned. Then the organizer of the board posts it to the board. This can be done each week with a different student. We can all use a little uplifting right now, and this activity is a great way to anonymously show kindness and appreciation for one another.