Community Programs as Partners, not Just Recipients: A New Model for Choose Health Action Teens

Worksite Location
Project Dates
May 22 – August 9, 2019
Faculty Sponsor
Wendy Wolfe
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Dr. Jackie Davis-Manigaulte, Lucinda Randolph-Benjamin, Carol Parker
Wages Up To
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

The Family & Youth Development and Nutrition & Health program areas of Cornell University Cooperative Extension in NYC in collaboration with Dr. Wendy Wolfe at Cornell University, would like to build upon the dynamic Choose Health Action Teen (CHAT) initiative that was implemented in the summer of 2018, with a CHE Summer Intern playing a key role.  In that model, 6 teen leaders from various communities throughout NYC were trained to engage elementary and middle school youth from summer youth programs in Brooklyn and Queens in hands-on activities and games to promote healthy eating habits and physical activity utilizing the Choose Health:  Food, Fun and Fitness (CHFFF) curriculum. This resource, developed by Dr. Wendy Wolfe, provides a high quality, sequential, engaging and positive youth development nutrition education experience for the youth participants, while the teens gain in leadership skills and also improve their own healthy habits.    For the next phase of this project, during Summer 2019, we want to explore a new model for conducting CHAT.  Instead of finding outside teen leaders, we will directly engage teens employed as assistant counselors at the community sites to teach nutrition to younger youth in their own agencies.  We will conduct the program in 2-3 community sites, and already have a commitment from the Police Athletic League, a city-wide agency serving primarily low-income youth.  In the new model, we will build the capacity of both the teen leaders and the youth workers at their sites by providing appropriate training to each group, with the help of the Cornell intern.  Both groups will receive in-depth CHFFF training, along with ongoing mentoring. The youth workers will receive additional training and support to help them mentor the teens.  We feel this approach will increase buy-in for the project among staff and the site-based teen leaders, and potentially provide opportunities for reinforcement of the key principles of the CHFFF program throughout the summer and beyond.  These teens may be more effective in working with and influencing the children at their sites since they may live in the communities, will work with the youth on a daily basis, and can serve as role models.  In addition, the agency leaders may be able to replicate the program with other teen leaders beyond the summer program, with ongoing training, support and coaching from the CUCE-NYC staff.  By developing a cadre of youth workers who are trained to implement the curriculum, we will be able to reach more youth and teens with the message of healthy eating and active living. OUTCOMES:  Strengthen skills of youth workers to implement healthy eating and physical activity programs within their respective agencies (based on the CHFFF and CHAT program models); Increase the awareness and behaviors of youth and teens in NYC related to healthy eating and physical activity; pilot a new model for CHAT in which agency youth workers are trained, along with the teens, to allow expansion of CHAT in NYC and to other areas of the state; further revise the CHAT Facilitator Guide based on learning from the summer experience and implications of the new model for program effectiveness.

Roles and Responsibilities

The student intern will provide ongoing support for implementation of the CHAT Initiative, including helping to train the youth workers and teen leaders, on-site support for both groups during implementation of CHFFF sessions, and coordination of data collection of the CHFFF, CHAT and 4-H Common Measures evaluation surveys and data submission.  Assist with related family engagement and community outreach events as needed.  Participate in ongoing program debriefs with project leaders and make recommendations for revisions needed to curriculum and/or program operations.  Lastly the intern will assist in development of program reports related to this project. 

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

The student should have prior experience working with youth (teens and/or school age youth), ideally in an urban setting(s).  Beginning level coursework in nutrition, community health, family and youth development and/or research and evaluation is strongly desired.

Benefits and Skills

Through this engaged learning experience, the intern will develop an understanding of the realities of implementation and evaluation of community based nutrition and positive youth development programs in a large urban setting, as well as curriculum development, and family and community engagement/ outreach.