With increased health challenges facing youth and their communities, it is essential to design youth-driven programs dedicated to identifying ways to improve health – both body and mind. 

One local team of Benton County 4-H members, Cassie Burgett, Ava Sayre, Hannah Wallpe and Jazmine Weaver recently had the opportunity to enhance their healthy living skills at the National 4-H Youth Summit on Healthy Living in Washington, D.C. This year, the three-day Summit held at the National 4-H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland hosted a series of wellness sessions focused on promoting healthy, sustainable lifestyle choices that included: food allergies, social and emotional health, physical health, health advocacy within communities and opioid prevention. Participants gained the necessary skills on methods to improve public health shared by prominent lifestyle and health experts.

Here is what each of the team members had to say about the experience.  

“I am extremely thankful for having this opportunity to go to the National 4-H Conference summit. I loved meeting people from around the country and seeing the capital! My favorite part was the team presentations because I was made aware of how issues in our state are totally different in other states and I loved seeing how other teams were going to tackle those issues. I am really excited about our action plan and feel that the conference has really pushed our team to make it the best possible.”  – Ava Sayre

“I really enjoyed making new friends and learning so much about healthy living and all the aspects of what “healthy” means. Healthy living isn’t just eating salads and working out it’s mental, physical, social, and emotional health.  They all tie into living a balanced well rounded way of life.  At the conference we were taught how to apply what we learned and how to teach it back to others.” – Hannah Wallpe

“I loved and am so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many other active 4-H members from all around the country (some even from the Virgin Islands) and learn about the differences between our programs and theirs. I’m super excited to start building upon some of this new found knowledge and incorporate these new ideas in our county!”  – Cassie Burgett

“My eyes were really opened to see what an amazing community and family 4-H has created for some many. My favorite session was probably the session addressing LGBTQIA+, they talked about a really difficult subject really well.  They are just proving furthermore how great of a community 4-H is.”  –  Jazmine Weaver. 

Participants of the summit were challenged with creating a Team Action Plan. The team plans to empower other youth to improve their social and emotional wellbeing through a program they are calling “Be a Better You”.  The program would provide support and teach their peers how to care for their whole health through mindfulness and communication techniques.