Take the 4-H road to ‘Healthy Living’

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Amelia Apple, Bobbi Jane Lawrence, and Jillian Bowling Showing the Lifebooks they made for foster children to support emotional health. (Courtesy: Brunswick 4-H)
Amelia Apple, Bobbi Jane Lawrence, and Jillian Bowling Showing the Lifebooks they made for foster children to support emotional health. (Courtesy of Brunswick 4-H)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — In October 2016, Jillian Bowling and Amelia Apple, from Brunswick County 4-H, were chosen as the first North Carolina Healthy Living Ambassadors. As a result, they were given the opportunity to attend Walmart Youth Voice: Youth Choice (YV:YC) grant training with N.C. 4-H staff to learn about new curriculum, techniques, and activities that can help their state achieve success in encouraging under served youth to live healthier, more active lifestyles.

These two youths are part of the Brunswick County 4-H Teens in Leadership Training (TiLT) youth volunteer program. The program trains youth through adult youth partnerships to effectively teach younger youth 4-H, and Cooperative Extension research-based curriculum.

These young ladies have been teaching healthy living for the past three years and Amelia is the sister of a 4-H TiLT healthy living alumni.

While they were in Chevy Chase, Maryland with other youth and adults, they were invited to attend the National Healthy Living Summit 2017, generously paid for through the Walmart YV:YC grant.

Bowling and Apple joined Angie Lawrence, Brunswick County 4-H program associate and 4-H TiLT leader, and Bobbi Jane Lawrence, a TiLT veteran since she was 9,  to serve as NC 4-H Healthy Living Ambassadors, so they could share NC 4-H Healthy Living curriculum, “Be a Bone Builder,” and learn what other states are doing to assist them in creating a Healthy Living Action Plan. The goal would be to reach even more youth in order to encourage them to live healthier, more active lifestyles.

From Friday, Feb. 17 – Monday, Feb. 20, Apple, Bowling, and Lawrence were tasked with researching, learning, sharing, and creating a plan to help teens in NC 4-H reach youth with the healthy living message.  On the first evening, small groups were formed, allowing youth from 25 states to discuss what they thought were the major health issue’s concerning youth in their communities.

Through this discussion, National Youth Healthy Living Ambassadors collectively agreed that youth today struggle with body image, stress management, and are poorly informed on how to live healthy active lives. This would be in their thoughts through-out the weekend as they learned new exciting ways to teach healthy living and became prepped in how to create their action plans.

After a day of fun workshops, where they practiced vigorous exercise, learned kitchen science, and new ways to cook, prepare, and lead a healthy lifestyle, they started to work on their action plan.

First, they researched, using the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “County Health Rankings and Roadmaps,” they learned that 10 out of 18 counties in their 4-H District were in the highest rankings of having obesity and poor health education. This helped them decide that the task they were being trained for was bigger than three NC 4-H Health ambassadors could handle, so they brainstormed and came up with an idea. Their plan was starting to take shape.

They decided they needed to have a South East District Healthy Living Summit before the 2017-2018 school year. They plan to ask the local Health Department, Cooperative Extension Staff, and 4-H youth from the SE District to plan and teach healthy living programs that focus on physical, emotional, and nutritional health> they also want local health departments train 4-H Healthy living ambassadors so that they can take these programs into their communities, reaching the under served youth in the communities that need it the most.

Throughout the rest of the weekend the, ambassadors learned more skills to use when they returned to North Carolina.  Including, how to market the program, how to start Healthy Living Clubs, hands-on ways to discover the fats and sugars in your everyday foods and much more.

Jillian Bowling and Amelia Apple discovering the fat in a fast food item. (Courtesy: Brunswick 4-H)
Jillian Bowling and Amelia Apple discovering the fat in a fast food item. (Courtesy of Brunswick 4-H)

Since their return to the Brunswick County Clover Kids 4-H Club, they have learned how to reach out to other groups throughout the community to give them the opportunity to earn Healthy Living 4-H pins, by implementing H2O, fruits and vegetables, and physical activity, using the 4th H for Health Challenge, “Healthy Kids out of school,” program.  The long-range plan is to partner with existing 4-H clubs, and any interested after-school or Scout groups, to spread the Healthy Living message in Brunswick County.

Currently, YV:YC Healthy Living TiLT youth volunteer teams are on the road teaching youth how to live healthier, more active lives, through 4-H curriculum at area schoosl.

Amelia Apple at the Healthy Living Summit sharing 'Be a Bone Builder'. (Courtesy: Brunswick 4-H)
Amelia Apple at the Healthy Living Summit sharing ‘Be a Bone Builder’. (Courtesy of Brunswick 4-H)

Matthew Robles, Samantha Washburn, Lena Devlin, and Bobbi Jane Lawrence have taught “Be a Bone Builder,” to Lincoln, Belville, Bolivia, Town Creek, and Supply Elementary kindergarteners. Sadie Huntley and Reagan and Reilly Dumproff are teaching Junior Master Gardening at Southport Elementary Communities in Schools program three times a month.

Jillian Bowling, Amelia Apple, Autumn Apple and Bobbi Jane Lawrence are scheduled to teach a series of six “Organ Wise Guys” lessons at Supply Elementary – Communities in Schools after-school program.  On June 17, the 4H Club will partner with the Brunswick County Health Department for the second annual Health Fair and FUN Run.

If you are interested in learning more about 4-H and how you can travel the 4-H Road to Healthy Living, contact Angie Lawrence, 4-H program associate, at angie_lawrence@ncsu.edu.  You can also call the Cooperative Extension office at 910-253-2610. 

You may also visit its website https://brunswick.ces.ncsu.edu/categories/4-h-youth-development/, or like them Facebook https://www.facebook.com/brunswickcounty4h

-Content provided by Brunswick County 4-H, NCSU Cooperative Extension

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