DARKE COUNTY – Two young ladies, Molly Hunt and Haley Maher from Genesis 4-H club are on their way to helping other 4-Hers learn a healthier way of life.
They are Ohio 4-H Health Heroes, just two of 38 advocates, that are part of a new statewide program.
“…Our program is involved in the 4th H – which is health, so that’s like nutrition and physical activity. And the goal of our program is to promote healthy living within our 4-H clubs and our county, and ultimately when all the counties get involved, throughout the state of Ohio,” explained Maher.
Maher said they are encouraging everyone to make healthy life choices and health conscience decisions.
“We are very excited that we have these two young ladies representing us. They have lots of exciting things planned for us in the next few months. We’ll see them at 4-H camp with information and the Great Darke County Fair,” said Rhonda Williams, Darke County OSU Extension Director, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development.
Hunt was one of nine people who attended the 2016 National Youth Summit on Healthy Living at the National 4-H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland in February. In November, the Ohio 4-H Healthy Living Summit in Columbus is planned.
“We went to different workshops [at the National Summit]. We learned how other states were bringing healthy programs to their state and how we could bring them back to ours and use what they’ve done to help what we’re going to do,” said Hunt.
A program Hunt and Maher have already started sharing with others is “Water first for thirst,” a program that promotes drinking water over other drinks. They shared the program with attendees of the recent Darke County 4-H County Recognition and Kickoff event.
“Water has no sugar,” said Hunt. “Most childhood obesity starts with sugary drinks.”
Hunt and Maher had a table set up in front of the crowd that had a selection of popular drinks on it. They asked for several volunteers from the audience and had them each pick a drink. Each volunteer read the amount of sugar on the nutrition label. They were asked to covert the sugar grams to teaspoons (one teaspoon is equivalent to one packet of sugar) so there was a visual representation of how much sugar was in each drink. The volunteers then demonstrated with sugar packets how much sugar was in each drink compared to another drink.
“People don’t realize how to read the nutrition facts on drinks and food,” explained Hunt. “They think that because everyone says something is healthy, that it’s healthy. You need to know how to read the nutrition facts to know what you are drinking or eating.”
In the demonstration, the volunteers found that an iced cappuccino drink had eight teaspoons of sugar compared to a sports drink that had five teaspoons. A serving of chocolate milk contained eight teaspoons and a Coca-Cola has 14 teaspoons.
Unsweetened tea has zero sugar. Hunt said that unsweetened tea is a good choice because tea is naturally sweet. Milk, she said, is also a drink that’s naturally sweet.
“It’s healthy sugar,” she said.
Maher said that 4-hers can make good healthy living choices.
“When picking out your projects consider picking some of the health related projects that are available. We have some really good projects that you could learn a lot from,” encouraged Maher.
Maher also offered some tips when holding club meetings: plan an activity to get everyone moving (like playing a game) and pick healthy snack choices (flavored water, tea, juice, apples).
“Small choices like that can [positively] influence you and your club members,” she said.