MAKING A DIFFERENCE NEWSLETTER - Issue 3, Volume 17 (Apr 2017) Issue 3, Volume 17 (Sept 2017) - Page 8

heroes 4 health

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Childhood obesity is an issue that plagues youth across the nation. In Texas, approximately 15.6% are overweight and 15.7% are obese.

UNITY's CHILDREN HOME

Studies reveal a direct correlation between socio-economic status and obesity. Individuals in low income areas are more likely to experience obesity for many reasons including lack of access to fresh and affordable foods. Individuals living in such areas suffer from statistically higher rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other diet-related conditions than the general population.

To address this issue, Cooperative Extension agent, Ashley Moore partnered with Unity Children’s Home to implement Heroes 4 Health, a youth life skills educational series.

The program was conducted for 13 weeks, on Saturdays and Sundays.

This program aimed to increase knowledge about making healthier food choices through hands on experiences that focused on food preparation and kitchen safety. Over the 13 weeks, participants improved social skills and cultivated positive behaviors. The program also assessed youth readiness to teach other youth about making healthy lifestyle choices.

Youth and adults prepared a variety of healthy foods such as fresh salsa, whole wheat taco muffins, eggs & spinach omelettes, fruit smoothies, fruit salads and yogurt parfaits.

Michael Chambers, Program Coordinator, shared his thoughts about the impact of youth learning these essential skills: “These kids will transition into adult living and the healthy food choices and cooking skills they learn are important for independent living”.

FAMILY & CONSUMER SCIENCES

yOUTH LEARNING LIFE SKILLS

Family meal time is also a program component for youth at Unity's Children Home. Unity’s Children Home is a residential treatment center for youth with behavioral and mental health issues. Family meal time and eating together for this group not only creates a sense of togetherness, but it also creates memories, values, and traditions that will be passed on to the next generation. Research suggests that children who participate in family meal time are less likely to be overweight, eat healthier food, and have less delinquency, greater academic achievement, improved psychological wellbeing and positive family interaction. Over 150 youth were reached this summer. This program was made possible through the Heroes 4 Health Grant