Wareham Middle School health class brochures educate on tough topics

Feb 5, 2018

From tick bites to gun safety, whatever your health and safety concern may be, Wareham Middle School fifth graders have created an informative, eye-catching pamphlet to address it.

Students in health teacher Harriette Sullivan’s class threw themselves into her assignment of making brochures about a safety topic that they care about. Students could choose almost anything they wanted, so the brochures are on topics including growing pains, rabies safety, sports and water safety, how to be safe around wild animals and bug bites.

The pamphlets are on display in the front office of the middle school for anyone to pick up, and Sullivan said people love reading them when they stop by the office.

Sullivan said the students respond well to being able to choose a topic that interests them to research independently. The brochures must have an attention-grabbing cover and contain at least 20 facts, and with few other guidelines, students have gotten creative. One brochure was a replica of a snow globe and another, about jellyfish stings, was crafted to look like a colorful jellyfish.

There’s also a competitive aspect: students read all of their classmates’ brochures and score each one based on a rubric.

Sullivan said she enjoys learning what the students care about through their projects. One student created a pamphlet about Lyme disease after having it himself. Another was interested in addiction and drug use. She’s noticed that mental health and gun safety come up more often than in previous years in her classroom.

Since Sullivan is the only health teacher at the middle school due to budget cuts, she feels responsible to give students a comprehensive look at relevant topics. Health class is offered in fifth and seventh grade.

The health class, and the brochure project, can address “taboo topics” and give factual information instead of spreading rumors, Sullivan said.

“They see these subjects in the media and hear peers talking about them,” Sullivan said. “I answer their questions honestly and give them factual information.

For example, Wareham Middle School student Patrick Duggan's brochure on marijuana and cocaine contains illustrations and information on the dangers of these substances.

"Both cocaine and crack are very addictive- and very, very dangerous," the brochure states in Duggan's handwriting. "Cocaine is also called coke, rock, snow, blow, white, toot, nose candy, base, flake powder, basa and smack."

Though some fifth graders aren't ready to learn about subjects like that, this project allows the ones who are to explore the topic and find informative, age appropriate information using websites that Sullivan approves.

For more on what the Wareham Middle School health class is up to, visit their website at wmshealth.weebly.com.