ROCHESTER, N.Y. — “March in place slowly for 30 seconds with your hands on your hips,” Diavonte Allen tells a group of second graders at Roberto Clemente School No. 8 elementary school. Allen and Tionna Mendez, students at School Without Walls High School, are teaching a lesson on the importance of physical activity.
Allen and Mendez are part of a collaboration between the Monroe County 4-H Program, Roberto Clemente School No. 8 elementary school, and School Without Walls, an alternative high school in the city of Rochester, NY. As part of the collaboration, 4-H staff trained high school juniors and seniors to be nutrition educators for younger youth. Teens were trained using research-based curricula. The program was designed to engage teens to promote healthy living in their local communities.
The 4-H peer educator model increases teen leadership and youth voice in the local community. Teens received over 10 hours of training. Training consisted of a mixture of nutrition curriculum and positive youth development. Teens had the opportunity to see lessons modeled, and then practice teaching one another curriculum. Teens practiced and taught in groups.
Training prepared teen educators for what they would experience in the classroom. “Summer training helped me get a better idea on how to teach kids, while also helping me develop my own ideas for teaching and for recognizing how much influence we have,” Allen said.
After completing training, Allen and Mendez began teaching weekly healthy living lessons in second grade classrooms this fall. To date, they have been in two classrooms and taught over 10 lessons! Lesson topics ranged from physical activity, fast food nutrition, and the importance of fiber. Teen educators appreciated their time in the classroom. “I really enjoyed the energy from the kids,” Allen Said. “It shows that not only they were engaged, but they were excited for us to be there.”
The Monroe County 4-H staff enjoyed setting up and supporting this program. “The responsibility and dedication of these teens to the 4-H program and modeling healthy choices is commendable,” Susan Coyle, Monroe County 4-H Program Leader, said. “This program was a great way to share 4-H Youth Development with both teens and primary students. The collaboration efforts of both schools is exciting to be a part of.”
The Monroe County 4-H Program is offered through Cornell Cooperative Extension to the youth of Monroe County. 4-H is a worldwide youth development program open to all youth aged 5 to 19, who want to have fun, learn new skills, and explore the world. In return, youth who participate in 4-H find a supportive environment and opportunities for hands-on or “experiential” learning about things that interest them.
Learn more at http://monroe.cce.cornell.edu/4-h-youth-development.
–Cornell Cooperative Extension Monroe County
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