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P51 4-H Food Smart Families: Extension Engages Teens to Provide Youth and Families with Nutrition Education and Cooking Skills

      Objective

      To engage teens as teachers to help plan and lead educational programs that equip youth and their families to make healthy living part of their everyday lives through increasing knowledge to adopt healthy eating and food preparation behaviors.

      Use of Theory or Research

      Research shows improving eating and physical activity behaviors is effective when implementing multiple changes at various levels of the Social-Ecological Model (SEM). This program focused on SEM individual factors through partnerships with in-school and out-of-school community settings. Teen ambassadors were trained using the Experiential Learning Model.

      Target Audience

      Programming focused on urban low income youth and their families in five counties across the state. Teens, 16-19 years of age, were recruited as teen ambassadors.

      Program Description

      4-H Food Smart Families aims to empower teens through youth-adult partnerships to be leaders in their communities and advocate for healthy lifestyle choices. Youth participants were provided with 10 hours of nutrition and physical activity focused programming that utilized research-based curricula. Families were encouraged to attend Family and Community Engagement events and teen led activation events.

      Evaluation Methods

      4-H Common Measures was utilized to collect quantitative data and evaluate program impact in participants. Survey results and qualitative success stories were entered and analyzed in either Qualtrics or the PEARS reporting system. Quantitative post survey data was captured from teens.

      Results

      Eighteen Extension professionals and 16 teen ambassadors reached over 1,140 underserved youth and 2,540 family members. Two teen activation events were successfully delivered with the support of community partners. 92% of youth (n = 816) and 100% of teens (n = 10) indicated learning about healthy food choices. 45% of youth and 100% of teens indicated giving their family healthy meal or snack ideas. Youth reported paying attention to how much fruit (64%) and how many vegetables (55%) they eat each day.

      Conclusions

      Nebraska Extension professionals were able to empower teens to help deliver healthy lifestyle programs that improved the knowledge and behaviors of participants.
      Funding: None.

      Appendix. Supplementary data