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I pledge my health to better living

I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living for my family, my club, my community, my country, and my world.
 -The 4-H Pledge

Dr. Freeman
Reflecting on the 4-H Pledge can help us find ways of making the best of our lives even better. Last month I wrote about the hands part of our 4-H Pledge. Today, I'd like to reflect on our health.

I pledge my health to better living
Making a commitment to care for ourselves is very personal. The food we eat, the activities we participate in, the physical and spiritual rest we pursue are all choices each of us must make for ourselves. But, the people around us and the choices they make, do have influence.

What kind of friend are you?
4-H'ers are 2x more likely to make healthy choices both as youth and throughout their lifetime. According to research, the people we spend time with as youth have a very real influence on our health and well-being.

In 4-H, youth come together with peers to learn, grow, serve, and make healthy choices in community. If you want higher self-esteem and confidence, better health, and decreased stress, hang out with folks who share your goals. Our friends can't make healthy choices for us, but they can encourage and make similar choices right alongside us. And did you know just how much influence your choices have on your friends? Youth have a great deal of positive power. When youth make healthy choices, their friends do too.

Teenager and grandparent enjoying watermelon
Do caring adults really make a difference?
Sometimes we as adults can question our significance in the lives of young people. We volunteer hours and hours over many years, but aren't always sure that what we're giving is what youth really need.

Well let me tell you, research is clear that caring and supportive relationships with adults is a critical variable when predicting long-term health in young people. That's worth repeating. The love, support, and connection you make with the youth in your life is the most important way you can ensure their overall health.

When families, schools, and communities come together to provide youth with the unwavering love, affirmation and acceptance they need to succeed, youth are empowered to make their own positive choices for health and wellness.

My own healthy living pledge
For many years I've had the same health and wellness goal: learning how to swim. Achieving this goal has been difficult and frustrating. In fact, I've failed more than once in my attempt. It's only this year that I've finally made progress I can feel proud of. And you know what made the difference? Having somebody else who believed in me and helped me to experience success. I'm learning to swim and it feels great!

Do you have a health and wellness goal? I hope there are people around you who will support and encourage you toward success. And I hope you will be that caring person for somebody else. When you pledge your health to better living, it's for yourself and for the positive influence of the people around you.

Pledging my health to better living,

Dorothy McCargo Freeman
State 4-H director

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