–The Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives (SCRI), a satellite campus of the Southern University Agricultural Research & Extension Center housed in Opelousas, has received a grant from the Walmart Foundation to teach healthy living practices to youth through its Ambassadors for Healthy Living Program.
Louisiana is among 20 other state 4-H organizations approved for funding by Walmart’s 4-H Youth Voice: Youth Choice program. This year, the foundation donated $2 Million nationally to the program to expand its reach from 15 states to 21, reaching 75,000 at-risk youth and their families with interactive education about nutrition and food security challenges.
The Ambassadors for Healthy Living Program is a component of the SCRI’s outreach programs; which include the Back-to-School Summit, the Youth Educational Support (YES) after-school program, and the Gardening Program. While these programs address healthy living, Ambassadors for Healthy Living is a more in-depth program. Its goals are to ensure that all youth who participate in the program: 1) have an understanding and acquire knowledge of the phrase, “healthy living;” 2) have a complete understanding of the importance of healthy living; 3) implement strategies to develop and maintain a healthy eating and physical lifestyle; and 4) become ambassadors of healthy living in order to encourage family and friends to develop and maintain a healthy eating and physical lifestyle. The program covers the SCRI’s ten parish area of St. Landry, Lafayette, Vermilion, Acadia, St. Martin, Pointe Coupee, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Allen and Evangeline Parishes, as well as, East Baton Rouge and Orleans Parish.
“Health and happiness are interchangeable. When you are your healthiest, you are happier in every sense of the word. It is extremely important for all of us to be healthy, no matter what age! SCRI has already begun reaching out and improving the health of youth and families in the community. With this generous grant, we will be able to reach even more young people so that they can have a healthier lifestyle,” said Youth Specialist/Director of SCRI, Dr. Wanda Burke.
According to the Child Trends Data Bank, child-aged food insecurity is associated with a greater risk for being overweight. Food insecurity can result in lower diet quality and less variety, both of which can contribute to being overweight and nutritionally deprived. Evaluation results from the 2011-2012 Youth Voice: Youth Choice program years show that participating young people reported a higher understanding of nutrition and physical activity knowledge and an increased active use of that knowledge. Additionally, participants’ attitudes towards nutrition and physical activity became more positive and young people showed an improved ability to make healthy food choices, even in food insecure settings.
Other states receiving the grant including: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virgin Islands, Virginia and West Virginia.
4-H is a community of six million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills. National 4-H Council is the private sector, non-profit partner of 4-H National Headquarters located at the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within USDA.
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are committed to helping people live better through philanthropic efforts. By operating globally and giving back locally, Walmart is uniquely positioned to address the needs of the communities it serves and make a significant social impact within its core areas of giving: Hunger Relief and Nutrition, Sustainability, Career Opportunity and Women’s Economic Empowerment.