A Youth Health Leadership Program: Feasibility and Initial Outcomes
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This study determined the feasibility (attendance, participation and completion) and initial outcomes (food consumption, food acquisition, physical activity and leadership) of a community-based youth health leadership (YHL) program. YHL was developed as a part of a larger childhood obesity prevention coalition in a medium-sized community in North Florida using community-based participatory research approaches. The theory-driven 6-week program included content sessions, application rotation, and health campaign. Data were collected from youth participants (n = 36) and a purposive comparison group (n = 29) via self-administered questionnaire and project records in the first three years of YHL. Feasibility outcomes show that the majority of program participants attended and participated. Completion rates ranged from 61.5% in year one to 100% in years two and three. Significant differences in treatment and comparison groups were noted in frequency of fruit consumption (p < 0.001) and physical activity (p < 0.002). However, there were no clear patterns of improvements for the treatment group. Trends in the data showed that the consumption of foods high in fat, sugar and sodium decreased slightly for the treatment group but increased or remained the same for the comparison group. The leadership outcomes for youth participants show that those reached are furthering their education, participating in activities such as internships, receiving honors, and garnering leadership achievements. This study suggests that a community-based youth health leadership model is feasible, but more work is needed to impact health behaviors. Future research directions are provided.
KeywordsYouth programs Positive youth development Health behaviors Diet Physical activity
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
This study was funded in part by the Florida Blue Foundation. P. Ralston has served on the Florida Blue Foundation Sapphire Awards Selection Committee and an honorarium for this service was paid to her university. B. Green, I. Young-Clark, C. Waryoba, S. Smith, C. Harris, S. Finch, M. Miaisha and C. Coccia have no conflicts of interest.
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