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SOSMentor educators consistently hear from students that they desire a greater voice in the food and exercise options in their school environments. SOSMentor realized it could fill a need in middle schools by guiding these motivated youth toward advocacy and social change, which inspired the Take Action for a Healthy School Community Program.
Middle School is a critical time to develop students’ self-esteem and give them a sense of efficacy that they can control the course of their lives. The Take Action Program teaches young adults the nutrition and exercise knowledge that enables them to take charge of their own health. By combining nutrition education with social activism, the program goes a step further and empowers students to improve the health of their families, schools and communities.
The Take Action Program incorporates the key elements of SNaX (Students for Nutrition and Exercise), a school-based obesity prevention program developed and tested by the Los Angeles Unified School District and researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, RAND, and UCLA.
The year-long “in school” program during advisory or lunchtime is organized around 5 general topics in the SNaX curriculum (with 5-7 classroom lesson plans each), in which students learn about nutrition and physical activity, and how to advocate about healthy eating and physical activity with their peers and family members (using role play). Students also conduct school-wide lunchtime activities (including taste tests). The 5 topics are: (1) cafeteria options; (2) healthy beverage choices; (3) healthy eating tips on fruits, vegetables, and fats; (4) physical activity; and (5) physical inactivity/media literacy. The workshops are a forum for students to discuss with mentors how to change their environment so it is easier to make healthier lifestyle choices. These students then spread the word about healthy lifestyles throughout the school.
After assessing their schools, students generate an environmental change project that addresses their health concerns. The projects are tailored to their age range and include options such as: fundraising for a permanent hydration station, planting a school garden, lobbying the school for input on the types of food served at lunch, finding safe walking routes to local schools, making a school cookbook, or creating a healthy eating page for the school website.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” -- Margaret Mead
SOSMentor’s mission is to empower underserved youth to make healthy choices. We deliver innovative nutrition and fitness education that inspires kids to advocate for health in their schools, families, and communities.