Omaha Northwest High School students encourage their peers to live healthier, more active lifestyles

September 26th, 2014 by Live Well Omaha Kids

DSC02895Building Healthy Futures has brought together the community’s medical, dental, and mental health providers to address the diverse needs of under-served children in the Omaha community through thoughtful collaboration and advocacy. In addition to school-based health centers in eight Omaha Public Schools, Building Healthy Futures works with community stakeholders to address other child and adolescent health needs such as health literacy, oral health, and childhood obesity.

Last spring, Building Healthy Futures was awarded a $25,000 Preventing Childhood Obesity grant from Children’s Hospital & Medical Center to pilot a youth-driven, peer-led obesity prevention and healthy living initiative at Omaha Northwest High School. This program has three areas of foci: 1) physical activity, 2) healthy eating/nutrition, and 3) body image.

The Healthy Huskies Club is being implemented at Omaha Northwest during the fall semester. It will feature after-school programming, guest speakers and presenters, and field trips within the Omaha community – all centered around healthy and interactive lifestyles. The Healthy Huskies Youth Health Advisory Council, which consists of approximately 10 Northwest students, received obesity prevention content trainings and began the planning process of this exciting initiative during the summer months. Students at Northwest High School will be empowered to take leadership to positively change their school environment and encourage their peers to live healthier, more active lifestyles.

YHAC-#1-046“With this initiative, it was important to realize that the  best way to reach teens was to have a peer-lead club. Who knows teens better than teens themselves? We had two trainings this summer to secure the base of the club: the Youth Health Advisory Council. We went over content, social marketing, and research & evaluation. Looking forward I can see that teenagers are really the only way to get this message of obesity prevention out there. During the trainings the teens were so pumped up. I know that they are excited and know that their excitement will affect their community!” -Nicole Carrillo, 11th Grade, Omaha Northwest High School

“This summer I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with Building Healthy Futures and help them form our new initiative at Omaha Northwest High School. Throughout the summer we have held two trainings for our Youth Health Advisory Students to get to know each other and to gather more information about this program. By letting this be peer-led will help the students to feel that they aren’t being lectured rather they are making the positive choices themselves.” -Mabel Gonzalez, 12th Grade, Omaha Northwest High School

Throughout the planning and development process of this initiative, it has been evident that youth are motivated by their fellow peers in a setting with which they are familiar, such as their schools. Our challenge to our community partners is to adapt programming to meet the needs of youth where they are for the majority of their days. As research shows, this method provides youth the opportunity to become empowered to take ownership of the initiative and truly embody the work at hand.

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To keep up with what’s going on with Building Healthy Futures, you can find them on Facebook or Twitter. If you’d like more information about the Healthy Huskies Club, call Omaha Northwest High School at (402) 557-3500 or Building Healthy Futures at (402) 715-4148.

 

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