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Cottonwood County 4-H'ers hold workshops promoting fitness

Coming Together. Learning. Having Fun. Battling an Epidemic.

Are you physically active each day? Do you try to eat healthy foods? 60 minutes of physical activity a day, along with healthy eating, is recommended by the CDC in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This can be hard for some people, as is shown with the obesity rate throughout the United States. Cottonwood County 4-H youth Kelsey and program coordinator Crystal Reith noticed obesity was an issue in their own community and wanted to make a positive impact. Youth, they believed, were the key to helping families make healthy changes.
Youth learn about the importance of healthy living

Together, Kelsey and Crystal designed a workshop series called "Food, Fun, and Fitness." In it, youth were encouraged to spend 60 minutes a day doing physical activity, taught how to make healthy snacks, and learned to promote a healthy lifestyle to their friends and family. "The group met four times throughout the summer. At each session, we focused on movement, healthy eating, mood, and recharging our batteries. Youth learned about portion control, reading nutrition labels, how much sugar is in different drinks, made healthy snacks, received a cookbook with healthy foods, and much more," said Crystal. "We had fun too," added Kelsey.

Exploring how much sugar is in various beverages 
It was a totally new project for both Kelsey and Crystal. They collaborated with the Windom Area Hospital and the local HyVee store to access supplies and ensure the educational materials were in line with current medical recommendations. Before this project began, Cottonwood County 4-H hadn’t offered any healthy living programs. "Many schools offer only a limited amount of time for physical activity. We wanted to offer a program for youth to get more physical activity and to encourage healthy eating," Crystal said.

Although the initial plan was to only focus on physical activity and healthy eating, the program evolved as youth and adults collaborated with each other. "We added in different areas in an attempt to cover all aspects of living a healthy lifestyle," reflected Crystal. Kelsey reflected on a more personal level. "My favorite part was tracking my sleep. I didn’t realize how late I was staying up each night. My biggest [personal] challenge was getting to bed earlier and eating healthier snacks."
Playing games outside to be physically active 
Cottonwood County 4-H hopes to offer this workshop series again next summer. They are already in discussion with the Windom Area Hospital and HyVee to improve and maybe even expand the experience to more youth.

Kelsey and Crystal agree that 4-H has positively impacted both of their lives. "4-H gives [us] the opportunity to explore different project areas, learn life skills, and create lifelong friendships," said Crystal. "And 4-H is a fun way to get involved in community activities and meet new people. Everyone should be in 4-H!"said Kelsey.

Each spring the Minnesota 4-H Foundation distributes grants to 4-H clubs that engage youth in building critical life skills. We feature one grantee every month to celebrate wonderful ways Minnesota 4-H'ers are living out the 4-H Pledge. Click here to read about other grant recipients.

Did you know that healthy living experiences in 4-H happen because of the generosity of donors like you? What sort of impact could your support have on youth who want to build confidence and make better choices for their long-term health? Your gift could empower Minnesota youth to lead and succeed. They’re just waiting on you. Please give today.

By Laura Wyatt
Student Worker
Minnesota 4-H Foundation

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