Gathering together at the 4-H High Ropes Course, 100 high school students participated in team-building activities on Dec. 3, at the second annual Teen Healthy Lifestyles Summit.

Arizona 4-H and UnitedHealthcare, who have partnered together in effort to build programs within high schools that teach students leadership and encourage healthy lifestyles, put the event together. Douglas, Sunnyside, Desert View and Tucson High schools are the four schools from Southern Arizona that have implemented the material into either classes, after school programs or clubs. Students who decide to join become a part of their school’s Student Wellness Advocacy Team program.

“It’s really important for the kids to develop life and leadership skills, combine the nutrition skills and take that back to their high schools and become healthy living ambassadors,” said Elizabeth Sparks from Arizona 4-H. 

About 100 high school students attended the Teen Healthy Lifestyles Summit where students zip lined, climbed ropes and cooked vegetables. Each activity forced the students to work together through encouraging one another and brainstorming ideas. Freshmen from Desert View, Dulce Santa Maria, attended the event for the first time this year.

“It’s good. I’d give it (the event) a five out of five stars,” said Santa Maria. “It’s a very cool experience and I’m always learning new things.”

The partnership between Arizona 4-H and UnitedHealthcare is called Eat4-Health – a program that has spread to high schools in nine states throughout the country. The goal is for students to become healthy living ambassadors, not only at their high schools, but also in their communities with their families and friends.

Each year the students participate in healthy living fairs, fitness days, health school activities and curriculum. Students are taught what foods and drinks are healthy, how to read labels, and how to take what they’ve learned and encourage their friends and classmates. 

“Peer to peer influence is strong and helps in showcasing the good habits that can be developed through the Eat4-Health program,” said Noemi Bohn, a community outreach supervisor for UnitedHealthcare.

Eat4-Health receives grant money from UnitedHealthcare through the University of Arizona Extension service, which offers 4-H programs in the states counties.

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