4-H Encourages Healthy Habits for Youth, Families

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knockout roses

Knockout roses bloom and show their color. Roses can serve as a reminder of the familiar saying, “Stop and smell the roses,” as families make decisions about what habits they want to carry forward after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Stop and smell the roses.” It is a familiar saying, and a year ago, the world said stop for us. People had to pause When they were not in front of a screen, many picked up new hobbies like gardening or sought more time outside to get out of the home.

Now that the pace of many families’ lives have picked up speed again, I wonder what lessons will be brought forward into life after a pandemic. There was unarguably heartache and pain caused by the pandemic, but did people not recognize a few benefits worth savoring? As “busy” tries to creep into schedules and onto calendars again, 4-H shares ideas for families who want to continue to make time for healthy habits.

In 4-H, youth are encouraged not only to learn about how to lead healthy lives, but also how to practice making healthy choices until it is a habit and part of their lifestyle leading from adolescence into adulthood.

Three ways families can press pause and spend time together are backyard or traditional camping, trying new foods or cooking in the kitchen and getting active outdoors.

With summer fast approaching, it is a great time to give backyard camping a try. 4-H and Healthy Essentials partnered to give these tip to families:

“Pitch your tent and put some blankets and pillows inside. If you don’t have a tent, don’t worry: Just stretch a rope between two trees, throw a blanket over it, then weigh down the four corners. Still feels like just your backyard? Download and play some nature sounds from a phone and through mobile speakers. It’s hardly a camp-out without some fireside storytelling. Share your own or search online for a few campfire stories to tell.”

Another fun family activity is holding a mystery fruit and veggie taste test.

The taste test is a good option for competitive families. After gathering, family members can try small samples of different fruits and vegetables. For every correct guess, a person earns a point.

A boy prepares fruits and vegetables in the kitchen. A mystery fruit and veggie taste test is one activity families can try this summer as a way to spend quality time together.

A boy prepares fruits and vegetables in the kitchen. A mystery fruit and veggie taste test is one activity families can try this summer as a way to spend quality time together.

For an added layer of difficulty, youth and parents can use a blindfold during the activity, so points are earned on taste and smell alone.

If competitions are not exciting for some families, cooking in the kitchen together is another great way to model healthy habits and gain quality time. Best of all, cooking is all about hands-on learning.

An easy recipe is banana pancakes from Elisabeth Watkins, California 4-H, and the 2019 Youth in Action Healthy Living pillar winner. Ingredients are one overripe banana, one large egg, a pinch of salt, and one tablespoon of creamy nut butter – peanut, almond, or whatever is preferred by the cook.

Once the batter is ready, an adult can bring a pan to medium heat and grease it with butter or choice of oil. Then, the batter can be poured in and cooked to perfection.

Youth can customize the recipe by adding other nuts or fruit toppings.

One more healthy living activity to try is taking a penny walk.

A penny walk is where someone goes outside for a walk and walks until they reach an intersection. At the intersection, the individual flips a coin, such as a penny, and uses it to determine which way to go. Heads and tails can be right and left.

This game makes a walk around the neighborhood or a park more of an adventure.

For more healthy living ideas, contact Caldwell County 4-H at sarah_kocher@ncsu.edu.

Families should also consider attending the Anita Alta Family Day on Saturday, June 12, 2021. Registration is required. Learn more about it and other short-term summer programs at go.ncsu.edu/summer-exploring.

Again, Caldwell County 4-H is a member agency of United Way, and it enthusiastically supports its partnerships. Learn more about Caldwell County 4-H programs online.

Sarah Kocher is the 4-H Youth Development Agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension in Caldwell County. The N.C. Cooperative Extension, Caldwell County Center, 120 Hospital Ave. NE #1 in Lenoir, provides access to resources of NC State University and N.C. A&T State University through educational programs and publications.