Introducing 'Health Rocks!'

Turner Pride Jr., 4-H Agent, Vance County
Mar. 10, 2014 @ 10:51 AM

This generation of youth encounters a wide range of challenges and obstacles outside of worrying about health risks. According to the Center for Disease Control, each day in the United States, more than 3,200 people younger than 18 smoke their first cigarette. It is also said that an estimated 2,100 youth and young adults who have been occasional smokers become daily cigarette smokers. If smoking continues at this current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 are projected to die prematurely from a smoking-related illness. That equals about one in every 13 Americans age 17 or younger alive today. It was also stated that people ages 12 to 20 drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.

Knowing this, how can we have 4-Hr’s join the revolution of responsibility by being healthy examples for their community? Health Rocks! is a three-part evidence and research based leader’s curriculum for a healthy living program with the goal of bringing youth families and communities across the United States together to reduce tobacco, alcohol and drug use. The curriculum targets young people ages 8 to 14 years old. Teens and adults are essential to this as they are used as facilitators to share hands-on activities that educate youth on the consequences of tobacco, alcohol and drug use. The idea is to help youth develop life skills in the areas of critical thinking, decision-making, communication, managing feelings, stress management and goal setting to help them resist risky behaviors. The teaching tips and key messages are packed into activities, making learning exciting for our young people. Most importantly, Health Rocks! aligns with national health standards and N.C. Essential Standards Healthful Living-Health Education targeting ages 8-14.

The program aims to reduce youth smoking and tobacco use, help youth build life skills that lead to healthy lifestyle choices with special emphasis on youth smoking and tobacco use prevention, help youth understand influences and health consequences, engage youth and adults in partnership to develop and implement community strategies that promote healthy lifestyle choices, and build positive enduring relationships with youth involved as full partners through widely varying “communities of interest” to address youth risk behaviors. According to the county health rankings and road maps, our overall health outcome is ranked 95 out of 100 in the state. With this staggering number it is essential that we offer this program to our youth.

Starting this month, Vance County 4-H, in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club of North Central North Carolina, will be providing this education to the youth here in our area. We hope to leave a lasting impact by empowering youth to make positive life decisions. If you would like more information please feel free to contact the Vance County Cooperative Extension Office at (252) 438-8188.