245545 Evaluating Youth Advocacy for Policy and Environmental Change to Improve Communities

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 5:30 PM

Leslie Linton, JD, MPH , Health Policy Consulting Group, San Diego, CA
Christine Edwards, MPH , Health Policy Consulting Group, La Mesa, CA
Cheryl Moder , San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative, San Diego, CA
Rachel Millstein, MHS , Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego State University / University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA
Susan Woodruff, PhD , Casbirt, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Background. New research is examining the potential of youth advocacy in the field of active living and healthy eating. e-YEAH! is an evaluation of Youth Engagement and Action for Health (YEAH!), a project of the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative. YEAH! engages youth and adult mentors in advocating for neighborhood improvements in physical activity opportunities and access to healthy foods, by 1) assessing community environments, 2) collecting data via environmental assessment tools, and 3) implementing advocacy action plans. YEAH! is based on successful pilot projects that led to a Safe Routes to School grant to build sidewalks near a high school and renovations to a local park to enhance pedestrian access and safety. Methods. Using elements of a successful model rooted in tobacco control, e-YEAH! employs a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the impact of YEAH! participation on 10-15 YEAH! groups. Data are collected through written baseline and post-surveys of youth, on-line surveys of adult mentors, and interviews with decision-makers who are the focus of advocacy efforts. Outcome variables include measures of policy and environmental change, youth empowerment, self-efficacy, and readiness to act as advocates. Results . To date, more than 90 adult mentors have been trained as group leaders. e-YEAH! will present youth, adult mentor and decision-maker data from groups implementing projects in 2011. Conclusions. Evaluation findings will describe changes in youth participants, characteristics of successful advocacy groups, guide improvements to the YEAH! program, and provide insight into the potential for youth advocacy to influence community environmental/policy change.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe a community model for training and supporting adult mentors of youth advocacy groups for policy and environmental changes to increase opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating. 2. Identify components of an evaluation to assess the impact of youth advocacy groups. 3. Discuss results of advocacy participation from surveys of YEAH! youth participants, adult mentors and policymakers in San Diego County.

Keywords: Advocacy, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Project Director and Co-Investigator directing implementation of the research study that is the subject of this presentation. I have more than 20 years experience in public health research and regularly conduct evaluation of interventions focused on policy and environmental change to enhance active living / healthy eating.
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.