Using Elevator Pitches to Advocate for Health

According to the National Health Education Standards, advocacy skills “help students target health-enhancing messages and encourage others to adopt healthy behaviors.”

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Health advocacy is a skill that will benefit students far beyond their academic lives. With this in mind, I challenge my classes to create short, health-centric public service announcements (PSAs) modeled after “elevator speeches” commonly used in the corporate world. While this activity can easily be adapted to fit any health content area, the example below is from an eighth grade nutrition unit.

I first explain to students that they should be prepared to advocate for their own health and for the health of their peers whenever they find themselves in contact with someone like an administrator, police chief, parent, etc. who can help make a change for the better. Advocacy skills are also beneficial to kids when they’re hanging out with friends and need to stand up for themselves.

Using information from the Maine Career Center and the Coaching Corner website, I provide the following guidelines for my students as they create their elevator speeches:

  • Your elevator speech should: 
    • Be concise: Keep it short (30-60 seconds) and to the point.
    • Be clear: Not only in how you speak, but also in your message; don’t ramble.
    • Be powerful: Leave the listener pondering your words, even after you’re done speaking.
    • Have a hook: Make the audience want to listen as soon as you start speaking.
    • Focus on action: Define what you want to happen and how that accomplishment will create a positive change.

The chart below outlines sample tasks as paired with their respective NHES performance indicator. 

Task NHES Performance Indicator
State three facts about any of the following: obesity in the United States, physical activity/education, or nutrition (the school lunch program, sugary beverages, fast food, etc). 1.8.3: Analyze how the environment affects personal health.
Share one way the facts you used above can affect personal health (example: how drinking multiple sugary beverages daily can impact health). 1.8.9: Examine the potential seriousness of injury or illness if engaging in unhealthy behaviors.
Name two changes that you think should happen in relation to the facts you listed, as well as the positive changes that would result. 8.8.1: State a health-enhancing position on a topic and support it with accurate information.

 

Students can deliver their elevator pitches to the class, record them digitally, or for a fun twist, perform them in front of an adult within their school or community.

After learning how to advocate for their health, students are encouraged to use the same method to educate those around them about their other passions, too.