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Wellness Challenge leads to results at the 4-H State Leadership Conference

The Issue

National and state priorities highlight the importance of modeling and encouraging the best health and safety habits when working with children to support optimal development and success. Currently, several steps are being taken to strengthen the physical, social, and emotional health for all 4-H participants. 4-H events are ripe for strengthening, such as, by improving the nutritional value of snacks and beverages, increasing the amount of sleep scheduled, and eliminating some “hazing” traditions that may undermine emotional safety. The Wellness Challenge, conducted in 2015 and 2016 at the State Leadership Conference (SLC), is one way to identify and address how to best support 4-H event planning and execution in the future.

What Has ANR Done?

At the 2015 4-H SLC, youth and adult participants completed a "Wellness Challenge" to encourage healthy behaviors at SLC and to assess current health practices during a typical 4-H event. For four days participants recorded the challenges they completed at the conference. The Challenge was adapted from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents and the 4-H Healthy Event/Club Assessment.

In 2015, forty-one percent of participants reported eating fewer than four servings of fruits and vegetables, indicating a need to increase options. Of highest concern, only 15 percent of participants reported sleeping at least nine hours a night, which is the recommendation for optimal memory retention, and is especially important when learning new information. Emotional health data demonstrated a need for increased reflection time, with only 53 percent reporting self-reflection. To improve the 2016 SLC event Healthy Living leadership used the assessment to create recommendations for nutrition, food safety, healthy lifestyle, and emotional health. Recommendations incorporated increasing access to healthy choices, providing reminders, and designing schedules and activities in a manner that is consistent with the sleep guidelines for 4 H events.

The Payoff

4-H improves health incorporating Wellness Challenge recommendations

The 2015 recommendations were adopted and implemented by the 2016 SLC planning committee. Results from the 2016 Wellness Challenge showed a 19 percent increase in fruit and vegetable consumption by event participants from the prior year and a 13 percent increase in those that reported at least 9 hours of sleep. By improving the health aspects of this event, both individual health habits and event planning practices improved. The recommendations and corresponding results have the potential to impact all future SLC, state-wide, and county 4-H events. SLC will serve as a model event for 4-H health, to ensure that the best practices in healthy living are encouraged. The full report can be found at: http://4h.ucanr.edu/Resources/Evaluation/Evaluation_Updates/.


Supporting Unit: Youth, Families, and Communities Statewide Program

Anne Iaccopucci, Academic Coordinator, amiaccopucci@ucanr.edu
Kendra Lewis,Academic Coordinator,kmlewis@ucanr.edu
Marcel Horowitz, Advisor, mhorowitz@ucanr.edu
Dorina Espinoza, Advisor, dmespinoza@ucdavis.edu