AMES, Iowa--Iowa 4-H will sponsor a statewide training May 22, 2007, on its healthy living curriculum, thanks in part to a $7,000 grant provided by the National 4-H Council in collaboration with Kraft Foods, Inc.
“More youth involvement is key to promoting healthy lifestyles,” said Kim Brantner, Iowa State University Extension county education director, who wrote the grant along with 4-H’er and high school sophomore, Elizabeth Rankin of Bedford.
Iowa is one of 11 states to receive the healthy living grants, which were offered to help communities create educational programs and public awareness to confront the climbing trends of youth obesity and put an emphasis on physical fitness, nutrition and healthy lifestyles.
The training will equip ISU Extension youth development and nutrition professionals to “recruit youth groups and volunteers and carry the message to several audiences such as Clover Kids, community 4-H clubs, day camps, summer camps, after-school programs and a variety of ongoing school district programs,” Brantner said.
From a small pilot program in southwest Iowa, the initial Food and Fitness program grew to attract the attention of youth professionals across the state. Spearheading the pilot were ISU Extension educators Jane Hayes-Johnk and Pat Anderson, nutrition and health field specialists; Deb Hall, education director for Adair County; Ruth Litchfield, state food and nutrition specialist, and Brantner.
Funds provided by the grant will ensure that each participant receives materials and resources with which to teach the curriculum. Materials include two CDs, one with training materials and another with physical activities suitable for a variety of youth groups.
“Fitness is not about starving yourself; it’s about exercising your body and using calories to fuel the activity. Kids and adults can end the obesity epidemic by getting out and moving it,” said Alyse Herr, a 4-H’er and high school senior from Adair County. Herr developed Camp Move It in the summer of 2006 as a 4-H project within the Food and Fitness program. The project, aimed at elementary youngsters, also included members of her high school sports teams.
Herr told audiences about her project during the Iowa State Fair in August 2006 and earned honors as a Herbert Hoover Outstanding Student through her fitness education activities. She was one of 20 youth ambassadors for the Food and Fitness pilot.
“It’s critical that we involve our youth in the decision-making process,” Brantner said. “Leadership is one of the hallmarks of 4-H. Peers teaching peers is one of the most powerful methods for engaging youth in healthy lifestyle education. Youth across the state can step up and take leadership in health and fitness just as Alyse did.”
In Iowa, 4-H is headquartered on the Iowa State campus in Ames and is sponsored by ISU Extension 4-H Youth Development with support from the Iowa 4-H Foundation. Iowa 4-H also owns and operates the Iowa 4-H Center, which offers year-round camping and fitness activities to groups, families and youth with or without 4-H affiliation.
Other recipients of the grant include Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. Grants were available to attendees of a 2006 John Deere Leaders Academy.