Youth Reach New Heights in First Ever NC 4-H Healthy Living Summit
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NC 4-H Healthy Living programs (The 4th H) provide youth with health-related educational content through engaging, hands-on learning experiences so that youth are better equipped to live holistic healthy lifestyles. Last year the NC 4-H’s State Council voted to highlight the 4th H “Health,” to raise awareness around healthy living and good decision-making. The NC 4-H State program team decided to build upon this call from our youth leaders to strengthen NC 4-H’s Healthy Living programs. Friday, April 28th through Sunday, April 30,th NC 4-H hosted the first ever Healthy Living Summit at the Eastern 4-H Center. The theme for the Summit was “Reaching New Heights”. A total of 48 youth from 12 counties participated.
Youth engaged in workshops on drug and alcohol prevention, foods and nutrition, hydroponics, physical fitness, stress management, crisis prevention and intervention, meditation and bullying prevention. They created action plans to take back to their counties to implement health-related programs within their communities. Youth leaders convened a town hall meeting towards the end of the weekend to engage youth in conversations about the critical health-related needs facing youth in NC. Youth returned to respective counties empowered to create change and excited about the possibilities for the future health of their communities. To demonstrate their ability to make an immediate impact youth participated in National 4-H Community Service Day by packing over 600 meals for the Backpack Buddies program for Tyrrell Elementary School, Columbia Middle and High School. Backpack Buddies provides food every weekend to children who are identified as ‘food insecure’ by teachers and guidance counselors at school.
4-H Healthy Living programs include outreach components that provide connections to families, such as newsletters and community events. Healthy Living program topics include drug use and abuse, bullying prevention, stress management, food safety, health and fitness, goal setting, financial health, and nutrition education. These programs are offered within multiple educational environments including school classrooms, after school programs, community clubs, special interest opportunities, and residential camps. Mastering these basic health principles place young people on the right track to managing their long-term health.
In addition to educational opportunities to learn about health-related content, NC 4-H provides opportunities for youth to develop leadership skills and for older youth to step into the role of instructor for their younger peers. Many healthy living programs are centered around providing middle and high school youth an opportunity to become junior leaders by working with adult volunteers to provide peer-peer training in these content areas. Current programs reach ages 8-17 with plans to move into younger age groups in the near future.
Plans for next year’s 4-H Healthy Living Summit is underway. A date has been set for May 4-6, 2018 at Millstone 4-H Center. May is mental health month. Come join us.