In 2022 the Ohio 4-H Health HEROES (Health Education Resources for Outreach, Engagement, and Service) program returned after a two-year hiatus. Ohio 4-H teens took on the role of healthy living advocates and have been hard at work developing action plans to increase health and wellness in their communities.
Earlier this year, four Health HEROES comprised the Ohio 4-H Healthy Living delegation at the Ignite by 4-H National Youth Summit in Washington, D.C. They participated in educational sessions on nutrition, physical fitness, mental health, and emotional wellness. At the end of the summit, these youth developed an action plan for their communities to support the health initiatives they learned about.
Sydney Hall, an eight-year 4-H’er from Butler County, took what she learned at Ignite to develop the Good Vibes project, an effort committed to addressing the mental health stigma and promoting positive well-being. She promoted community service opportunities, spoke with her peers about mental health, raised money to support mental health organizations such as NAMI Walks and Relay for Life, and passed out stickers to spread joy.
As Hall put her plan into action, she was thrilled to witness the impact it had on her peers. “Many experienced improved self-awareness, increased willingness to seek help when needed, and a shift towards prioritizing mental well-being in their lives,” said Hall. “While seemingly small, my action plan made it evident that even small acts of kindness and advocacy can make a significant difference in shaping a more supportive and compassionate community.”
Another member of the 4-H Health HEROES program, Elizabeth Schubert of Crawford County, also learned from developing her action plan. “I originally set out to start a mental health club at my school but ran into some challenges. I had the opportunity to work with the advisors and developed a new plan where I collaborated with my 4-H club to gather items to donate to local shelters and help people experiencing homelessness,” said Schubert.
“Participating in Health HEROES and developing an action plan have been eye-opening experiences. I’ve learned about so many different aspects of health we typically don’t consider and have developed a passion for food preservation as a result,” she said. She is even planning to transfer this newfound interest into her action plan for next year. “I want to focus on food scarcity and work with local food pantries to help solve this issue.”
After implementing their action plans, the 4-H Health HEROES presented their work to a health care professional at the Ohio State Fair this summer. “I enjoyed sharing my plan with a professional in the field and appreciated the constructive feedback she provided,” said Schubert. “Speaking with her helped me learn more about ways I can develop my plan to increase its impact.”
“I’m so grateful for this experience,” said Hall. “I’ve learned so much about myself and the dimensions of wellness that impact all of us. Health HEROES helped me step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself in ways I hadn’t done before.”
Would you like to support the Ohio 4-H Health HEROES program? Donate to the 4-H Healthy Living fund today!