University of Maryland Extension

4-H Teens Take on Health

“I pledge my…health to better living; for my club, my community, my country, and my world.” 4-H has always been an advocate for healthy living, and with a new partnership with Molina Healthcare, 4-H has been able to spread the awareness about a spectrum of health challenges faced in local communities including nutrition and physical fitness, substance abuse, safety, and social and emotional wellness. 
Molina Healthcare provided grants to five states across the nation to implement the Teens Take on Health Town Hall programs. The purpose of these programs was to provide an open forum where teens could express their specific opinions and concerns on health.
In Maryland, three Town Halls took place. On June 25, 2013, members of 4-H and the Future Farmers of America gathered in College Park. At the National Youth Health Summit in Chevy Chase on January 10, 2014, participants took a class on how to lead a Town Hall, and then helped facilitate a Town Hall for the whole summit later that night. On January 24, 2014, teens met at the Temple Hills Community Center. The MD team is also looking forward to hosting a Town Hall in Suitland this April. Click here to see pictures from the College Park Town Hall!
Using Liberating Structures, the teens engaged in interactive discussion techniques such as the, “1-2-4-All” and“25/10.” The 25/10 structure had the most positive feedback from the National Youth Health Summit. With index cards and an idea rating system, 25/10 is able to quickly brainstorm and prioritize the most popular ideas. Said one participant, “My favorite structure was 25/10 because we got to be brave and say what we couldn’t in person.”
What was unique about these town halls was not only the discussion techniques used, but the lasting effects left on teens and their communities. At the Town Halls, the teens first brain stormed health challenges faced in their individual lives, communities, and states, then went further to come up with possible first steps they could take to fix the problem. 
To learn more about the liberating structures used, and other liberating structures to facilitate discussion, check out the Liberating Structures website 
4-H is the largest youth development program in the nation with just over 6 million youth participating annually –over 90,000 of them here in Maryland – and is an integral part of University of Maryland Extension. Click here to learn more. 
Molina Healthcare, Inc. provides quality and cost-effective Medicaid-related solutions to meet the health care needs of low-income families and individuals and to assist state agencies in their administration of the Medicaid program. Click hereto learn more.
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