Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

HYPE Project

The Healthy Young People Empowerment Project (HYPE)

Eat Smart, Move More South Carolina partnered with the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to create the Healthy Young People Empowerment Project (HYPE). It was created through funding from the federal Community Transformation Grant, as a part of the Healthy South Carolina Initiative, to motivate and engage youth (ages 12-17) in policy, systems, and environmental change efforts.


Purpose of the HYPE Project and Phases

The HYPE Project is a five-phased approach to youth empowerment – Think, Learn, Act, Share, and Evaluate. The HYPE Project motivates and engages youth in policy, systems, and environmental obesity change efforts throughout South Carolina. It is designed to build the skills of youth so that they can become a greater voice in their communities. HYPE activities focus on healthy eating and active living; however, youth are encouraged to use the skills they learn to be lifelong champions of positive change.

Think. During this phase, youth become engaged in a process of critical thinking that builds their awareness and interest in policy, systems, and environmental change. Youth are encouraged to think beyond the individual level and to consider the impacts of community and environmental influences on health.

Learn. Adult advisors help youth build skills by providing them with culturally- and age-appropriate training so that they can be effective champions for change. During this phase, youth learn about healthy eating/active living, what it means to be a champion for change, and how to plan a HYPE project.

Act. Youth identify, plan, and actively engage in a grassroots youth-led effort to create policy, systems, and environmental change. They work together to identify a problem theme; conducting and analyzing a community assessment; identifying a problem for their project; and taking the appropriate steps to put their project plan in action.

Share. Once the project is completed, youth build their public speaking skills by presenting their project and results to their stakeholders and peers, to their communities and to a larger audience at the HYPE Project Youth Summit.

Evaluate. With the help of their Adult Advisors and the HYPE Project’s evaluation team, youth evaluate the process and outcomes of their project to ensure all goals are met.