MISSION NUTRITION: INTRODUCING HEALTHY LIVING PROGRAMS TO YOUTH CENTERS
Kalan Taylor, UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County; Bushnell, FL
Situation/Objectives: According to the American Heart Association, approximately one in three children and teens are overweight/obese. Childhood obesity is now the number one health concern among parents in the United States. So what is your 4-H program doing to help with this crisis? The Mission Nutrition program is a great way to start introducing youth to the importance of healthy living while teaching them how to prepare healthy AND budget friendly foods for themselves and their families. By using fun, hands-on learning and projects youth are able to learn the skills needed to lead a healthy life as both adolescents and adults. Providing healthy living programs to youth will ultimately contribute to lowering the rate of obesity among America’s youth. As a result of participating, youth will gain knowledge and skills to support healthy lifestyles. Educational Methods: The Mission Nutrition program was a five-day program offered to youth ages 8-12 and funded through a $1,000 grant, provided by UnitedHealth Care, Food Smart Families. Each day the youth were taught one or more lessons using the 4th H for Health curriculum and the Choose Health: Food, Fun, & Fitness curriculum. The program also utilized the 5 Minute Physical Activities for Elementary Students handbook from Learning ZoneXpress. Results: All youth ages 8-12 were encouraged to attend giving us an average attendance of 31 youth each day. The youth were given a pre/posttest to evaluate knowledge gained. Demographics of the program – 65% Caucasian, 4% Indian, and 13% African American, of which 17% were Hispanic. Conclusion: Due to the success of this program, there have been four families from the youth center inquire about joining Sumter County 4-H. A local daycare has also reached out for assistance in teaching their parents the importance of packing healthy lunches for their children.