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A Youth Wellness Team (YWT) established by the Healthy Communities Moses Lake leadership team and the Columbia Basin Job Corps (CBJC) created an opportunity for youth involvement in the Moses Lake Community Garden project. A case study of the YWT identified several successes including increased confidence and positive self-image for youth. Youth were involved in activities ranging from walking challenges and wellness fairs to state and national conferences. As part of the garden project, the youth grew vegetables for local food banks and constructed compost bins. CBJC also benefited from improved recognition and a healthier environment through the team’s efforts at the Job Corps campus. It seems that most of the youth were interested in personally experiencing the concepts of nutrition and physical activity before engaging in activities focused on changing policies and environments. Challenges faced by the YWT included the high turnover of CBJC students and staff and the loss of dynamic leaders due to relocation.
This study demonstrated meaningful youth participation in a community-based health promotion project where youth and adults shared in decision making. It suggests that before engaging in the work of nutrition and physical activity policy and environmental change youth must have a basic understanding of nutrition and physical activity and feel empowered to control these factors in their own lives. Youth involvement is a real asset to healthy communities projects and it is important to take steps to assure that youth stay actively engaged in making their communities healthier places to live.
Columbia Basin Job Corps partnered with Healthy Communities Moses Lake to establish the Youth Wellness Team in 2003. Job Corps participants continue to be involved with the Moses Lake Community Garden project.
This project was evaluated in a case study conducted by Martha Yarbrough for a master’s thesis project in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Washington. The study included key informant interviews with people associated with the YWT and reviewed related data and documents including quarterly reports, email communications, news articles, recruitment flyers and other materials from events and classes.
Featured: Spring 2006
Youth involved in the Columbia Basin Job Corps