4-H members make healthier choices

Ever wonder why youth are involved in the 4-H program, and the impacts it makes on their lives?

For nearly a decade, preeminent youth development scholar, Dr. Richard Lerner, and the team at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University have been working with faculty at land-grant universities to conduct The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development.

The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development is a longitudinal study that began in 2002, and continues today, surveying more than 7,000 adolescents from diverse backgrounds across 44 U.S. states. One of the 2012 summary findings focused on healthy choices.  The study found that young people in 4-H are 3.4 times more likely to delay sexual intercourse by Grade 12.  4-H members were also shown to have had significantly lower drug, alcohol and cigarette use than their peers.  The study also found those 4-H members are 2.3 times more likely to exercise and be physically active.

Why  are healthy choices important for youth? According to Michigan State University Extension, in order for youth to grow up and be successful adults they need to be healthy and happy.  Helping youth gain these skills at a young age will help them become equipped to handle healthy issues that they may face in adult hood.

The Michigan 4-H Youth Program has developed curriculum and resources to help adults working with youth learn how to incorporate healthy living lessons into their programming. 

Jump Into Foods and Fitness is a curriculum designed for youth in grades three through five that address fitness, nutrition and food safety.  This can be purchased from the MSU Extension Bookstore.

Life’s a Kick! Youth Tobacco Use Prevention Project is designed to train adults and older teens to work primarily with children in grades four to eight in community-based, out-of-school environments. In the process, the teen volunteers will develop leadership skills and provide a valuable community service. They will also increase their own knowledge about the negative health effects of tobacco.

Michigan 4-H Seat Belt Toolkit is designed as a resource for adults and teens to teach youth about the importance of wearing seat belts. This toolkit is filled with great hands-on activities and resources to use while working with youth.

If you are interested in getting involved in 4-H healthy living programming in your local community, visit your local MSU Extension office.

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