Tallahassee youth leaders engage kids in South City wellness day

Tallahassee youth leaders engage kids in South City wellness day

Youth Health Leadership member Sanjita Choudhary teaches South City children a lesson on healthy eating.

(Photo: Florida State University)

The Youth Health Leadership Program collaborated with the Youth Empowerment & Entrepreneurship Program, sponsored by the South City Revitalization Council, to host a Health & Wellness Field Day.

At the recent event held at Greater Love Church of God in Christ and the adjacent PromiseLand Urban Youth Farm, South City youth participated in activities to learn about healthy eating and physical activity, and how to build leadership skills, while developing hands on competencies in gardening. “Partnering with the Youth Health Leadership Program was a wonderful opportunity for South City youth to engage with youth leaders from other schools, neighborhoods and backgrounds and to learn from one another,” said Courtney Atkins, Chair of the South City Revitalization Council.”

The Youth Health Leadership members were then recognized a few days later at a ceremony held at Florida State University. The ceremony included a presentation of the collaborative project and each youth’s concept of an individual project to promote health in the community.

Youth Health Leadership members and their families at recent Recognition Ceremony. Youth recognized and their sponsoring organization included (left to right) Eliyah Campbell (Classical Conversations), Sanjita Choudhary (Rickards High School), Deysi Herrera (FSU College of Medicine SSTRIDE Program) and Sriya Patel (Chiles High School). (Photo: Florida State University)

Youth recognized included Eliyah Campbell, Sanjita Choudhary, Deysi Herrera and Sriya Patel who were sponsored, respectively, by Classical Conversations, Rickards High School, FSU College of Medicine SSTRIDE Program, and Chiles High School. “We are delighted to have such a talented cohort of youth to recognize this year, not only for completing Youth Health Leadership but also for forging a new partnership with the Youth Empowerment & Entrepreneurship Program,” said Penny Ralston, director and FSU professor.

The purpose of Youth Health Leadership, now in its seventh year, is to engage youth ages 14-18 in promoting and improving health and wellness through education and action in Tallahassee/Leon County.

Established by Childhood Obesity Prevention and Education (COPE), YHL includes a six-week curriculum: 1) four content sessions (total health, eating healthy, physical activity and health justice), 2) an application rotation (community internship) that involves shadowing a health professional or performing service learning, and 3) youth-led health program implemented in the community.

Through YHL, youth can increase knowledge about health and wellness, develop public speaking skills, and enhance leadership abilities while helping to improve the health of Tallahassee/Leon County and the surrounding area. Since inception, Youth Health Leadership has impacted over 100 youth and parents in Leon County who have participated in the program.

Youth Health Leadership members lead the South City children in some warm-up exercises.

The South City Revitalization Council, in partnership with FL-DOH Leon and PromiseLand Urban Youth Farm are working together to address food insecurity through urban agriculture and entrepreneurship training for youth in the South City neighborhood.

The Youth Empowerment & Entrepreneurship Program is designed to engage South City youth through a wide range of learning experiences, including urban agriculture and gardening, food justice, public speaking, nutrition education and other hands on activities, all designed to develop young entrepreneurs and leaders through urban agriculture and entrepreneurship training. Youth participants and their families receive information, skills and resources to produce their own fresh food for consumption and economic opportunity.

COPE was formed in 2010, under the leadership of Florida A&M University and the Florida Family Network, Inc., in partnership with the Florida State University Center on Better Health and Life for Underserved Populations and the Greater Frenchtown Revitalization Council. These partner organizations initiated plans for the development of a comprehensive coalition of over 80 public and private sector agencies, organizations, institutions, and individuals to address childhood overweight and obesity.

The mission of COPE is to develop and implement a plan of action to decrease childhood obesity in Tallahassee with the vision healthy children, a healthy future and healthy Tallahassee. COPE was previously funded by the Florida Blue Foundation. Youth Health Leadership donors in 2019 included lead sponsor South City Revitalization Council and co-sponsors Florida People’s Advocacy Center, the North Florida Education and Development Corporation in Quincy, and several in-kind sponsors.

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Dan Boone