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Getting youth to drink water, not sugar

young man drinking a bottle of water with the text "drink water." Text at the bottom "Make the healthy choice. Give your body the water it needs" NY State Department of HealthResearchers from the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research helped inform new public service advertisements created by the New York Department of Health to educate youth about the dangers of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Researchers working on the ACT for Youth project conducted two rounds of focus groups in the summer/fall of 2017 and spring of 2018 to test possible messages that would encourage young minority males to avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.

“The story demonstrates our ability to conduct research with youth across the state in order to help NYSDOH better serve and reach youth, ultimately helping—we hope-- to improve health,” said Karen Schantz, the communications coordinator for ACT For Youth.

A significant number of youth drink sugary beverages regularly. In one study conducted from 2011-2014, more than 60 percent of adolescent boys drank a sugar-sweetened beverage each day. This is alarming considering there is clear evidence that these beverages are associated with obesity, poor dental health and other health problems.

Amanda Purington, the director of evaluation and research for ACT for Youth, managed the focus groups. In them, groups of adolescent boys from western and central New York answered questions about the definition of “sugary” beverages and how much they consumed, and then evaluated sample ads created to encourage youth to avoid sweetened beverages.

“Many of the young people we talked with thought that sports drinks were healthy drinks and if they engaged in an athletic endeavor, they needed to drink them to replace electrolytes,” Purington said. “So, unfortunately, the marketing by the sports drink companies is working! On the whole, the youth were surprised by the amount of sugar in sports drinks because they really thought they were healthy drinks.”

Youth preferred ads with information, such as the amount of sugar in different kinds of sugary drinks. The most well-received ads struck a balance between providing information and delivering that information in a clear, concise – and often visual – way.

“They also liked having alternatives suggested, like ‘quench your thirst with water instead,’” she said. “But they didn’t just want to be told what to do, they wanted to come to their own conclusions.

“They also wisely acknowledged that a media campaign like this might lead to some short-term behavior change, but may not lead to long-term behavior change, especially in communities where sugary beverages are ingrained in the culture.”

The New York State Department of Health’s media campaign is now live.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: ACT for Youth    Amanda Purington    children    focus group    government    health    Karen Schantz    New York    nutrition    research    youth   

BCTR at SUNY Day 2013


Kimberly Kopko

On February 11th, 2013, Cornell Cooperative Extension/College of Human Ecology student summer interns, along with Kimberly Kopko, from the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, attended SUNY (State University of New York) Day 2013 in the Legislative Office Building in Albany, New York. The theme of SUNY Day 2013 was experiential education, showcasing the benefits of co-ops, internships, service-learning, volunteerism, clinical preparation, research, and entrepreneurial work. The event enabled campuses to display recent activities and programs that exemplify experiential learning to state legislative leaders.

Lydia Gill and Robert Neff, students in the College of Human Ecology, displayed their summer 2012 internship projects at the event. Lydia’s project presented the PROSPER (PROmoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience) Partnership Model in New York State. John Eckenrode, Ph.D., served as faculty sponsor for the PROSPER summer internship. The focus of Robert’s project was research for continuous improvement of 4-H in New York State. Stephen Hamilton, Ph.D. supervised the 4-H summer internship project.

The Cornell Office of Government Relations in Albany arranged meetings with legislators for participating Cornell staff and students. Lydia Gill and Kimberly Kopko met with Senator Thomas O'Mara's staff. Senator O'Mara represents Schuyler County, one of the PROSPER pilot counties where Lydia'a project was focused (the other pilot site is Livingston County). Robert Neff met with Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, who represents Kenmore County, where Robert lives. Kimberly, Lydia, and Robert met with Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and her staff. Assemblywoman Lupardo chairs the Assembly Children & Family Services committee. In addition to these meetings with legislators, the group also met with staff from the Farm Bureau.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: CCE    government    John Eckenrode    Kimberly Kopko    NY State    Stephen Hamilton   

CITIZEN U youth delegates met with state legislators during 4-H Capital Days

Tags: 4-H,   CCE,   CITIZEN U,   government,   media mention,   youth,  

Delegates from Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Broome and Monroe Counties represented the CITIZEN U Project at the 77th Annual 4-H Capital Days in Albany, March 5-7. This year’s Capital Days had 108 youth delegates, representing 35 counties. The 4-H delegates were formally recognized on the Senate floor for being part of a “great youth development organization.”

CITIZEN U is a five-year federally funded project of the Children, Youth, and Families At Risk (CYFAR) Program. The project focuses on civic engagement and workforce preparation for teens 14-18 years old. CITIZEN U is a double entendre for "CITIZEN YOU" and a metaphor for creating a "University" environment in which teens are empowered to become community change agents.

The CITIZEN U delegates to 4-H Capital Days discussed the importance of CITIZEN U with their legislators and described the community improvement projects they are working on in their home counties. The 4-H Capital Days gives youth opportunities to meet their local representatives and opportunities to network with other 4-H delegates. Young people get a first-hand understanding how state government works and learn about government and public service careers.

Juwan Johnson, Jai'quan Caesar, Amanda Marquez, Shaniyah Way, CITIZEN U, CCE Broome County meet with Senator Libous

The CITIZEN U Teen Leaders from Broome County met with State Senator Tom Libous, and Anne Richmond, Executive Assistant to Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo at the Legislative Breakfast. Jai’quan Caesar, Amanda Marquez, Shaniyah Way, and Juwan Johnson explained to their legislators what it meant to them to be “agents of change” and how they were working hard to improve Binghamton.

July, 2011 Cornell Chronicle article on CITIZEN U

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: 4-H    CCE    CITIZEN U    government    media mention    youth   
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