Inspiring PSAs to Show in Health Class

A huge part of what we teach in health class is advocacy, and one of the most effective ways to advocate is through PSAs, or public service announcements.

I’ve been having my students make them since back in the days of the handheld VHS cam and, needless to say, the quality has definitely improved over the last 10 years. Yay, technology!

I like to show my students examples throughout the year so that when it’s time to make their own, they’ve got a solid idea of what it takes to make theirs effective.

There have been a wide variety of PSAs produced over the last 50 years. Some have really worked, and some—for better or worse—have stuck in the lexicon of popular culture for years.

“You, alright? I learned it by watching you!” and “This is your brain on drugs” are usually the ones that come to mind.

And while in the past we were limited to PSAs that aired on network TV, thanks to YouTube we can now access ones we might never have seen otherwise.

Here are a few unique videos that I highly recommend. Hopefully you’ll be able to use them in class as a way to inspire positive choices and spark a passion for advocacy.

1. Cyberbullying: “Where Are You?” (Trend Micro’s “What’s Your Story?” Contest Winner from 2011)

This student-produced PSA looks like it was professionally done and it really packs a punch. It gets dark for a second, but ends on a high note, leaving the viewer with a positive solution. My students absolutely love the way it was done as a spoken word poem and the way the student who made it used graphic text to support his message.

2. Anti-Smoking Ad from Thai Health (2012)

In this moving PSA from Thailand, grown-ups are forced to acknowledge the hypocrisy of engaging in a behavior that they know is unhealthy and the message that it sends to kids. It’s longer than the traditional PSA, but it still has quite the impact. My students love it and even though there are subtitles, the message translates into any language.

3. #ThisGirlCan from the U.K. (2015)

This is a new PSA campaign from the U.K., and I think it needs to be added to any unit on body image. It features women of all sizes, races, ages, and physical shape working out in the best way possible. It’s a groundbreaking PSA, because so often the media shames women and girls for the way they look when exercising, when we all need to break a sweat.

The philosophy behind #ThisGirlCan is that we should exercise because we love our bodies, not because we hate them. And that’s a message I think all of our students need to hear.

For other great PSAs, check out some of the classics from Above the Influence or the great anti-tobacco advocacy group The Truth.

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