Online Program

Generation With Promise: Youth Wellness Ambassadors lead policy, system and environmental changes in physical activity and healthy eating in Detroit neighborhoods and schools

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 1:10 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Ali Lakhani, Wayne State University Student, Henry Ford Health System, Canton, MI
Bridget Christian, MSW, Generation With Promise, Henry Ford Health System, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI
Barbara Blum-Alexander, MPH, MSW, Generation With Promise, Office of Community Health, Equity and Wellness, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI
Jamila Stevens, MSW, Generation With Promise, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI
Chinyere Uju-Eke, MS, Generation With Promise, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI
Dameon Wilburn, BA, Generation With Promise, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI
Kimberlydawn Wisdom, MD, MS, Executive Offices, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI

Travis Wardell, Washtenaw Technical Middle College Student, Henry Ford Health System, Garden City, MI
Henry Ford Health System’s Generation With Promise “Youth Wellness Ambassadors (YWA)” aim to increase physical activity and healthy eating in Detroit through innovative, youth-led practices.

The YWA program increases leadership skills among youth to improve physical activity and healthy eating through policy, system and environmental changes in neighborhoods and schools in Detroit.  As part of the UCLA REACH Healthy by Default project, YWAs used a peer-to-peer model, facilitating and creating action plans with students on 5-2-1-0 messaging and Instant Recess. They also developed digital stories, a toolkit, and video accompaniments.  Digital stories highlighted the impact the program has on the YWAs themselves.

Youth want to have a voice in health policy change and they are experts on the conditions they face in their schools and communities.  Often youth are not asked what they would do to make change. Innovative practices that focus on youth leadership and peer education represent a model for schools and communities concerned about health.

Success stories draw on community-based evaluation data including qualitative interviews, youth narratives, youth-led evaluation, and program-level documentation.

Findings suggest that youth have influenced physical activity and healthy eating. Lessons learned include the importance of peer-developed training and materials, youth leadership, and the critical role of adults.  

Youth can play leadership roles in shaping policies and practices to improve health in schools and communities. Youth are in a unique position to serve as role models and leaders that can help facilitate healthy behaviors in ways that are effective and different from adult educators.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the effectiveness of youth-led policy, systems, and environmental change strategies, including impacts on the youth leaders' own health behaviors and attitudes Discuss innovative strategies for increasing the ease of healthy eating behaviors and being physically active in low-income neighborhoods of Detroit, MI

Keyword(s): Youth, Leadership

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Director of Generation With Promise, and have led the program since September 2007, first through the Michigan Department of Community Health, Office of the Surgeon General, now at Henry Ford Health System . I have nearly 20 years of professional experience in the field of public health/social work, mainly working with adolescents. My special areas of interest include working with diverse, multi-cultural groups of people and thinking about social determinants of 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.