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About the Food and Nutrition Information Center

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Title:Inspiring Youth, Growing Change
Alt. Title:Nurturing Strong Minds for a Healthy Community
Pub. date: December 2011
Edition: 1st
Includes: Report
Audience: Nutrition Educators
Language: English
Description:“The Network for a Healthy California initiated this report to learn more about the impacts, successes, and challenges of the Youth Engagement Initiative (YEI), which began in 2006. A primary goal of this report is to document changes resulting from the local projects, from the youth in the project to the built environment.”
Funding Source: USDA. FNS. SNAP-Ed.
Developer: Network For a Healthy California
Organization: California Department of Public Health
Phone: 1-888-328-3483
Length: 42 Pages
Assessment instrument Used? no
Reviewers Comments: Inspiring Youth, Growing Change provides an overview of the Youth Engagement Initiative (YEI), a Network for a Health California project which began in 2006. Although this report is not a formal evaluation of the project, it does provide information on impacts, successes, and challenges experienced since implementation. The data and information in this report was attained through key informant interviews with adult allies and project coordinators from seven project sites. The youth voice is not represented.

The report starts with details of the YEI, an initiative designed to contribute to a goal of increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables and increasing daily activity among low-income families. YEI is carried out through various project sites that conduct youth-lead participatory action research (PAR) projects with middle and high school youth.

The report then covers the impacts of youth research projects, as noted and observed by the interviewees. These impacts are broken out into four areas:

  • Eating and physical activity behavior changes among youth, their peers, and family.
  • School and community changes that increase the availability of fruit, vegetables, and clean drinking water.
  • New skills acquired by students and new experiences for students.
  • Projects expansion to include more sites, new partners, receive additional funding, media attention, and other health improvement efforts.

Interviewees observed that changes to school and community environments were hardest to achieve, while changes to eating habits and news skills and experiences for participants were commonly observed. This section includes many specific examples.

Implementation challenges experienced are covered next. The detailed challenges include time pressure, gaining adult buy-in, motivating participants and participation, ensuring a youth-lead approach, staff turnover, navigating bureaucracy, the evaluation and sharing process, and technical assistance. This section gives a general summary of each challenge, which is often applicable to any youth-led program and sometimes any nutrition education program. Specific examples are also provided.

The Advice from the Field section contains a “top ten” list that is a compilation of advice that adult project staff have for those interested in youth-led PAR projects. Finally, the report has a Case Study section. More than true case studies, this section details some of specific project sites programs, successes and experiences.

This report could be a useful tool for a nutrition educator in designing a youth-led intervention. Using the information provided, educators could effectively design and implement programs and be better able to anticipate and possibly mitigate challenges that could arise.

View/download files: 
PDF (3.6MB) :
Contact the Distributor:
    Distributor: Network for a Healthy California
    Mail: 1616 Capitol Ave
Sacramento, CA 95814
    Order URL:
    Cost: 3.00 per report
    Avail. in Qty: Yes

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