242025 "My Hero" Program: Empowering low-income men to model and support healthy behavior change in their homes and communities

Monday, October 31, 2011: 3:15 PM

Lydia Guzman, MPH, RD , San Mateo County Health System, San Mateo, CA
Mary Casagrande , San Mateo County Health System, San Mateo, CA
Background: Children model adult behavior; therefore, male role models are essential to promoting and supporting healthy behavior. However, men in low-income communities are often unaware of the great impact they can have on the family's health or feel disempowered because of the lack of knowledge and resources.

Objective: To empower men to model healthy behavior for their families and communities.

Method: "My Hero" Program first acknowledges the positive role men play in children's lives. Children write letters to nominate their “Heroes” and deliver them with an invitation to a health promotion program. At the program, the children honor their "Heroes" with medals, and empower them with health advice in their own words, making the health messages more memorable and motivating. The program includes interactive nutrition and physical activity education sessions. Men leave the program empowered with the knowledge, resources, skills and the awareness needed to make healthy behavior changes. They proudly take home a medal as a reminder that a child is looking up to them to be their role model.

Results: Ninety-six percent of male participants reported making a least one positive behavior change as a result of program; 25% of the changes directly affected the children.

Conclusion: By honoring the men for the critical role they play in the lives of children, and providing knowledge and resources, men can be empowered to model healthy behaviors for their families and communities.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Learning Objectives: By the end of the session, participants will be able to: 1) Describe two methods for empowering males to take an active role as change agents in their home and community, 2) List two interactive strategies for engaging males in health promotion.

Keywords: Intervention, Underserved Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I created the "My Hero" Program and have been conducting this program in low-income communities. I'm a health educator with forty years experience in public health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.