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4-H students learn healthy lifestyles

DECATUR COUNTY 4-H student Savannah Padgett engages in learning portion size as she prepares a healthy snack.

Many people may not realize that 4-H is more than cows, hogs and agriculture, but healthy living has been an integral part of 4-H and remains a foundation of our pledge.

As a partner in public education, the mission of Georgia 4-H is to assist youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills and forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive and contributing citizens.

To help achieve these goals, 2010-2011 Decatur County fifth-grade students gained knowledge and skills related to eating a healthy diet and getting physical exercise.

Emphasis was placed on key items of importance for Georgia’s youth, which include increasing fruit, vegetable and calcium consumption, as well as the importance of portion size and physical activity. Lessons this year engaged the students with the 4-H slogan, “Learn by Doing” as they discovered the MyPyramid, counted teaspoons of sugar in common drinks, and more.

The 4-H Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles Curriculum correlates directly with the Georgia Performance Standards in health and physical education, which further enhances the relationship between public education and 4-H in growing and working together to accomplish the extraordinary.

Recent research from Tufts University indicates that regardless of background, socio-economic status, race and gender, 4-Her’s engage in positive healthy living behaviors more often than students not involved in 4-H.

Findings also show that students thrive through the health/safety education and experiences they receive through 4-H programming.

4-H students incorporate healthy eating habits and appropriate levels of physical activity into their personal health behaviors to help meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Their positive behavior encompasses the goals of the 4-H and its pledge, “My Health to better living for my club, my community, my country and my world.”

4-H is a unit of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Cooperative Extension. 4-H provides a forum for “hands-on” learning experiences and youth development opportunities for young people. All 4-H clubs and units help youth develop the essential elements of mastery, belonging, independence and generosity.

Decatur County 4-H strives to equip youth with healthy living knowledge and skills that will prepare them physically, emotionally and socially to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Lindsey B. Hayes is the 4-H coordinator with the Decatur County Extension Service. She can be reached by calling 248-3033 or e-mailing her at uge4087@uga.edu.

I pledge my Head to clearer thinking

My Heart to greater loyalty

My Hands to larger service

My Health to better living