Na­tional 4-H healthy liv­ing ini­tia­tive a pri­or­ity

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Farm News - BY HEATHER CAMERON

Back in Novem­ber 2018, 4-H Canada an­nounced a two-year multi-part­ner agree­ment that sup­ports the well-be­ing of ru­ral youth across Canada. The agree­ment in­cludes the cre­ation of the 4H Canada Healthy Liv­ing Ini­tia­tive, which be­gins in Spring 2019.

“FCC has been work­ing with in­dus­try part­ners like 4-H to help re­move the stigma around men­tal health,” says Carla Warnyca, Com­mu­nity In­vest­ment Man­ager at Farm Credit Canada, said. “We feel that it's re­ally im­por­tant that we ap­proach men­tal health col­lab­o­ra­tively to in­crease the reach of re­sources with the in­tent of in­creas­ing the pos­i­tive im­pact that we can have to­gether in the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try and in com­mu­ni­ties across coun­try.”

Ac­cord­ing to in­terim CEO and Pro­gram Di­rec­tor, Erin Smith, 4-H Canada de­liv­ers pro­gram­ming within four lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment pil­lars: agri­cul­ture and food se­cu­rity, sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, com­mu­nity en­gage­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and the en­vi­ron­ment and healthy liv­ing. The Healthy Liv­ing Ini­tia­tive, Smith says, falls un­der the en­vi­ron­ment and healthy liv­ing pil­lar.

“We think that there's a lot of po­ten­tial to have lit­tle con­ver­sa­tions with young peo­ple about not only the en­vi­ron­ment and the health sys­tem of the planet, but their own health and well­be­ing,” Smith says. “The healthy liv­ing ini­tia­tive is re­ally about start­ing the con­ver­sa­tion around what it means to be healthy and to be a young per­son in this day and age.”

Smith says that the ini­tia­tive was cre­ated be­cause the or­ga­ni­za­tion wants to be able to cre­ate tools and re­sources for young peo­ple to be able to look at their men­tal health, their phys­i­cal health and their well-be­ing. This ini­tia­tive, Smith adds, is in ac­cor­dance with the mis­sion of the 4-H move­ment in Canada, which is to em­power youth to be re­spon­si­ble, car­ing and con­tribut­ing lead­ers that ef­fect pos­i­tive change in the world around them.

“We at 4-H sup­port youth in mak­ing sure that they are feel­ing healthy and that they know how to take care of them­selves and ad­vo­cate for their own men­tal health and well­be­ing,” Smith says.

Smith says that 4-H has been hear­ing from lead­ers in 4-H com­mu­ni­ties that many youth are strug­gling with men­tal health chal­lenges. Those lead­ers want to feel bet­ter equipped to sup­port the young peo­ple who they work with. Smith says that 4-H strives to be re­spon­sive to feed­back and thus, they came up with the idea of cre­at­ing a healthy liv­ing ini­tia­tive. FCC and Kids Help Phone have helped with the or­ga­ni­za­tion and de­vel­op­ment of re­sources.

“We want ev­ery­one to be bet­ter equipped to be hav­ing these con­ver­sa­tions with youth and to be point­ing them in the right di­rec­tion in terms of the re­sources and the ac­cess,” Smith says. “I think break­ing down those bar­ri­ers, es­pe­cially for youth in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties is es­sen­tial.”

The ini­tia­tive, Smith says, will take ef­fect over a pe­riod of two years with the first year of the ini­tia­tive fo­cus­ing on the cre­ation of re­sources and tools that will sup­port youth fac­ing men­tal health chal­lenges and teach them to how com­mu­ni­cate their need for help or to ac­cess sup­port re­sources. The sec­ond year of the ini­tia­tive will fo­cus on phys­i­cal health, nu­tri­tion and well-be­ing so youths can learn their strengths and how to de­velop them.

“The Healthy Liv­ing Ini­tia­tive means of­fer­ing youth not only the tools and re­sources to face chal­lenges, but also op­por­tu­ni­ties to learn how to thrive,” Shan­non Benner, the CEO for 4-H Canada, says.

While Farm Credit Canada is con­tribut­ing $50,000 to­wards the ini­tia­tive, UFA Co-op­er­a­tive Lim­ited, Corteva Agri­science™ Agri­cul­ture Di­vi­sion of DowDuPont, and Cargill have also all agreed to put over $150,000 col­lec­tively to­wards mak­ing it suc­cess­ful.

“As a pos­i­tive youth de­vel­op­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion, 4-H Canada con­tin­u­ally strives to un­der­stand our mem­bers and de­velop pro­gram­ming that meets their needs,” Benner says.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the 4-H Canada Healthy Liv­ing Ini­tia­tive, visit: https://4-h-canada.ca/healthyliv­ing.

“This is an in­vest­ment in young peo­ple who will play a large role in shap­ing the fu­ture of Cana­dian agri­cul­ture,” Michael Hof­fort, Pres­i­dent and CEO of Farm Credit Canada, says. “To help them reach their full-po­ten­tial we are sup­port­ing a pro­gram that con­trib­utes to the men­tal and phys­i­cal well-be­ing of our next gen­er­a­tion of farm­ers and agribusi­ness pro­fes­sion­als.”

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