Montana State University

MSU Extension will implement a new healthy choices program for youth

June 19, 2008

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Montana State University Extension 4-H will be able to develop a healthy choices program for youth due to a grant recently received from the National 4-H Council.

Stephanie Davison, program coordinator for the 4-H Center for Youth Development at MSU, said the grant for $30,000 will allow the center's staff to do "train the trainers" programs in interested Montana counties. The training will be in how to help youth be prepared to make healthy choices by teaching skills such as critical thinking, communication and ways to avoid peer pressure.

The skill-based curriculum, called "Health Rocks!" was developed by Mississippi State University and updated in 2007 by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It particularly focuses on tobacco and drug prevention, but participants learn many life skills, such as decision-making, identifying risks, stress management and other skills to help them make healthy choices. The program places a special emphasis on youth becoming responsible members of their communities, Davison said. It includes components that bring youth and adults together in developing community strategies that help 8-12 year olds make wise, healthy choices. Research indicates that youth who have positive social skills and competencies are more able to resist negative pressures.

Because of the grant, MSU Extension through its center for youth development will train teams of adults and older youth to implement the "Health Rocks!" curriculum in schools and after-school settings in addition to traditional 4-H programs.

To learn more about this program, contact Davison at (406) 994-3502 or sdavison@montana.edu.

Contact: Stephanie Davison at 994-3502 or sdavison@montana.edu