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Our Towns

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Duplicate or distribute this activity. Students may work independently or cooperatively.

Health Heroes
Some community workers make obvious contributions to the health of the community; for example, volunteer firefighter Robin Hinchey in Westminster, Maryland puts out fires and rescues people. (Segment 8) Others make less obvious but equally important contributions.

Explore ways in which public- and private-sector workers contribute to the health of people in their communities.

• Discuss how Kevin Fagerstrom (Segment 5) and Linda Marshall Hill
(Segment 6) help keep people healthy in the communities in which they work. Find a refresher on these and other stories by visiting the Livelyhood, “Our Towns” Web site (http://www.pbs.org/livelyhood/ourtowns.html).

• Identify people in your community who are unsung health heroes. Write a paragraph about each one, explaining his or her contributions. Add photographs and other visuals if you can.

You might use your paragraphs and visuals, and those of classmates, to create a presentation on local health heroes for elementary school students, and give this presentation to classes in local schools. You may even want to nominate local heroes to the Points of Light Foundation (http://www.pointsoflight.org)!

A Healthy Community
Is the well-being of individuals affected by the overall economic health of a community? How can a community keep itself economically healthy? Will Durst says that a community is “a lot like a stew. You only get out of it what you put into it, it helps if you’ve got a good mix, and you’d best keep a careful watch to make sure it doesn’t burn.” Have a discussion about this quote, using some of these questions to begin:

• What do you think about this formula?

• What is your formula for creating an economically healthy community?

• How can individuals make an impact on the economic health of their community? Check out Livelyhood’s “Our Towns” community and civic life resources for tips (http://www.pbs.org/livelyhood/ourtowns/resources.html).

Create a brief presentation outlining your conclusions. Present it to a class or a neighborhood group. You might also invite a local government official to come to talk to the class to add another dimension to the discussion of economic health. You could ask questions about what kinds of businesses civic officials are trying to attract. You might also debate what kinds of economic activity make a community healthy from the perspectives of its residents, its business leaders, and its government officials. Discuss these points:

• How do the concerns of these three groups differ?

• What goals do they share?

• How could they cooperate to make your community a dynamic and satisfying place to live and work in the future?