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Teacher Lesson Return to "Breathing Easier"
Breathing Easier
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Lesson: Helping Teens Think About Getting Help

Goal: This activity will help students think about steps that they can take to get help when they are challenged with a serious problem.

1. Introduce story. Tell your group that they are going to read a story about a teenager who struggles with a problem on her own and chooses not to seek help from her family or anyone else.

2. Read the story. As you read (aloud or silently) tell students to mark the places in the story where the author mentions her reluctance to let her family members know how she was feeling about her asthma.

3. Discuss “inside the story.” Here are some discussion questions.
—Do they admire Viveca? Why? (Note: She shows courage, independence and self-awareness.)
—What finally motivated Viveca to venture outside again and lead a more normal pre-teen life? (Note: See the paragraph in the fourth column under the sub-head “Taking My Life Back.”)
—Why did they think Viveca refused to open up to her family about her anxieties and fears? Tell them to look at the places they marked during the reading and provide some quotes from Viveca about this question.
—What would have been the worst thing to happen to Viveca if she told her parents the real reasons for staying inside? What do you think her parents would have done if she told them the truth? Should her parents have been more aware of her problem and talked to her about it?
—If you were Viveca’s friend and knew about her asthma fears, what would you have done to help? Would you have talked to anyone about the situation? Who?
—Were there other adults Viveca might have talked with about her asthma like a teacher, school nurse, or family friend?
—What adjectives describe Viveca?

4. Discuss “outside the story.”
—Has there been a time when you were reluctant to get help?
—Have you ever asked somebody for help?
—Has asking for help ever made things worse?

5. Activity. Remind the group that Viveca is a real live person (look at her photo) who would love to hear what they think about her story. Assign them to write letters to her telling her what they admire most about her while also including some advice to her about handling a similar problem in the future. Tell them you are going to send them to the magazine. Viveca will read them and some of them may be printed in the next issue. Send them to Youth Communication · 224 West 29th St., Second Floor · NY, NY 10001.
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