- Author: Marisa Neelon
- Co-PI: Charles Go
- Project 4-H20 Coordinator: Eli Figueroa
Project 4-H20 teen leaders' water promotion campaign at their Contra Costa high school resulted in 52% of students surveyed reporting drinking more water because of the campaign and school district board members deciding to help fund the efforts to promote healthy hydration.
Earlier work by Project 4-H20 teens found that average student water consumption at at John Swett High School in Contra Costa County was only 4.92 cups, less than the recommended 8 cups. Research shows that substituting zero calorie water in place of sugar sweetened beverages (SSB's) can help reduce weight gain ultimately reducing the risk of developing chronic disease. Improvements in water access supports healthy hydration and overall health, but education about the health benefits of drinking water, along with creative signage, is necessary to motivate students to continue to hydrate with water over sugar sweetened beverages.
How UC Delivers
Contra Costa County 4-H and Nutrition Family and Consumer Science (NFCS) Advisors and the CalFresh Healthy Living, UC project coordinator continued their collaboration using Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) methods and 4-H youth development practices to address the need for promotion of healthy hydration. Continuing the work of Project 4-H20 from the past two years, the project coordinator recruited five teens from the school to be our "partners" in the project. The teen researchers designed and evaluated a water promotion campaign at their high school. They created signage and produced engaging video clips featuring weekly messages promoting water consumption among their peers. To assess the effectiveness of their efforts, the teens designed and administered a student survey before and after the two-month campaign.
Forty-three percent or 220 students of the 512-member student body completed the pre-survey and 46% or 235 students completed the post survey. Students drank water more often during the campaign from the water refilling station as evidenced by their responses and the station water bottle counter. Also, 52% reported drinking more water because they were reminded by the campaign signage and messaging. The three most popular reminders were the posters, water drop floor stickers, and the videos featuring the weekly messages. Students commented that the weekly messages were funny, memorable, and made them think about the health benefits of drinking water.
The teen leaders presented their findings and recommendations to school district board members and received positive feedback and assurance that the board will help fund their efforts to promote healthy hydration. Reflecting on the project year, teen leaders reported that they learned research, teamwork, and communication skills. When asked how they plan to use what they learned, teen leaders shared that they will: “appl[y] my research/data collecting skills,” “b[e] more outspoken in my community,” “hel[p] make my community a better place," and “hel[p] lead the school by teaching about healthy lifestyles.”
Throughout the teen-led research project, the teens demonstrated skills as effective public leaders influencing the health of their school community. UC ANR's youth program equips the next generation for college, successful careers, and to be active participants in their communities, as research underscores the positive outcomes of such YPAR projects including leadership, academic, and career outcomes. In this way, UC ANR increases effective public leaders and contributes to the public value of developing a qualified workforce for California.