Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

What's Happening Youth

Involving youth in community coalitions to achieve sustainable change

Hampton County HYPE Team

Hampton County HYPE Team

by Trimease K. Carter, Youth Engagement Manager, ESMMSC

Youth engagement is a buzzword, but it’s also represents a great movement and opportunity for our state. Our youth have a collective voice in the community, and they can play a pivotal role in developing and implementing change at a local and state level.  By actively sharing their perspectives with community leaders and stakeholders, youth can become part of the solution. That’s one of the goals of The HYPE Project – to connect community coalitions with HYPE teams in an effort to contribute, teach, and learn from each other.

South Carolina is one of a handful of states where youth engagement programs exist, and that trend is increasing because of program success and impact. Due to efforts of engaged youth teams and their desire to make things better for themselves and others, communities are finding that youth can be an effective partner to create change, whether in a school, church or neighborhood. This partnership leads to changing the way youth perceive healthy eating and active living, as well as the importance of advocating for themselves and others in their communities.

hype620In the Let’s Go! South Carolina Community Initiative, six HYPE teams are working closely with their community coalitions to coordinate efforts and improve outcomes. By working together, these community coalitions are talking through ideas while gaining the fresh, new, and real perspectives of youth – the very group of citizens the Let’s Go! South Carolina projects target. The adult-youth relationship is only benefiting youth by giving them the experience, confidence, and skills needed to continue advocating for healthy eating and active living later in life.

A study by the Innovation Center for Community & Youth Development and the National 4-H Council found that organizations with youth engagement components benefited the adults and youth involved in the decision-making process.  The study shows that:

  • Adults experienced the competence of youth first-hand and began to perceive young people as legitimate, crucial contributors to organizational decision-making processes.
  • The principles and practices of youth involvement became embedded within the organizational culture.
  • Including youth in decision-making led organizations to reach out to the community in more diverse ways. Youth bring energy, fresh perspectives, knowledge of young people, and a sense of community to decision-making processes.

Since 2012, The HYPE Project has been implemented in 20 counties, many of them are rural and minority communities, with limited options for healthy eating and physical activity. More than 430 youth have learned about the change process and worked with their community leaders to implement a healthy eating or active living project. In addition to completing and implementing projects in their communities, youth realize collectively they can make change happen, and adults  value youth opinions and ideas to improve their community.

To learn more about The HYPE Project, visit our youth engagement page.