Treating People With Dignity

Say the word disease and a lot of people cringe. Sometimes people are so afraid of disease that it causes them to shun others who have a critical illness or treat them like they are less than human. This can lead to feelings of isolation during a time when the person who is ill might already feel fairly alone. How can we support our friends who have a critical health condition, such as diabetes, asthma, HIV/AIDS or cancer? What can we do to encourage others to act with more compassion toward peers with illnesses?

In this lesson, students will explore the ways people with a critical health condition or disease might feel, as well as various ways they can support and show compassion toward those who are living with an illness.

Additional Resources


compassion [kuhm-pash-uhn]
(noun) a feeling of wanting to help someone who is experiencing misfortune, such as illness 

dignity [dig-ni-tee]
(noun) worthiness; the quality of being worthy of respect

disease [dih-zeez]
a sickness, such as asthma, cancer or diabetes, that causes the body not to work normally 

empathy [em-puh-thee]
(noun) the understanding of or the ability to identify with another person’s feelings or experiences 

stigma [stig-muh]
(noun) a negative and often unfair belief commonly associated with something, such as disease

sympathy [sim-puh-thee]
(noun) the feeling of being sorry for someone else’s misfortune