Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

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Youth in four counties engaging in healthy eating, active living improvement projects

hype_teams400Areas in Florence, Dorchester, Marion and Richland counties could see healthy change happen by groups of youth taking an interest in improving their environments and increasing access to healthy food options and physical activity. Five new HYPE teams have hit the ground running after attending the Youth Summer Leadership Institute, a summer camp hosted by Eat Smart, Move More S.C. and The HYPE Project in which HYPE teams learn about policy, systems and environmental changes in three consecutive days rather than eight days spaced out over a few months.

“Our first Youth Summer Leadership Institute seems to have been a success based on feedback from youth and adult advisers, as well as the progress the HYPE teams are making since leaving camp,” said Trimease K. Carter, youth coordinator at ESMMSC. “The HYPE teams are making remarkable progress with their chosen projects, and the youth seem to be really engaged in the process.”
After HYPE teams returned home from the summer camp, they began the photo voice step of the HYPE curriculum and began analyzing pictures of their community. This is when teams decide on a common problem area, then complete assessments to pinpoint their HYPE project topic.

  • The Florence County HYPE team consists of six youth from the Kingdom Living Temple Church in Florence County. The team is concerned about crime and safety in a Florence County neighborhood, and they’re looking at areas within the neighborhood where residents can be physically active. The team is using actual crime rates to guide their project.
  • The Dorchester County HYPE team consists of 12 youth from the Carolina Teen Center. They’re considering focusing on healthy food policies for faith-based groups. They believe faith-based groups can have an impact on their community.
  • The Marion County HYPE team consists of ten youth participants from the Mullins House of God Church. This is another team concerned about crime, which seems to keep youth from using two recreational facilities.
  • The Richland County Allen University HYPE team formed from ten youth who are involved in the Allen University Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Academy. Their project is focusing on the walkability surrounding Allen University in downtown Columbia, as well as their individual neighborhoods where they live.
  • The Richland County Booker Washington Heights Hype team has six youth participants who represent the Booker Washington Heights Community. The team is still in the early stages of identifying their project.

“Our youth teams have been very thoughtful about picking projects that are unique to their communities, and they’re focusing on areas where they believe they can make a difference,” said Carter. “I’m really looking forward to the progress they will make as they get further along in their projects.”

The next step for these HYPE teams will be advocating for their projects and working with community leaders to make their visions become reality.