Lead the Way: Promoting Youth Development through Media Advocacy

This story comes from the Alliance’s youth engagement toolkit Lead the Way: Engaging Youth in Health Care. Each month, a new reflection from the field will touch on a different component of youth engagement and show how youth are leading the way in health awareness and promotion.

In California, CANFIT, which stands for Communities, Adolescents, Nutrition and Fitness, is reaching youth statewide through the MO Project Healthy Youth Leaders Model. This interactive training program lets teens to use media as an advocacy platform to promote healthy eating and physical activity changes in their community. Communicating youth engagement successes can lead to support from the broader community, present and future youth advocates, partner organizations, and foundations. Even more importantly, celebrated and showcased successes help validate youth work and encourage others to see the value of youth engagement.

(To learn more about the significance of communicating and promoting youth engagement successes, check out the Promoting Youth Engagement Efforts section of our toolkit!)

mo projectDuring CANFIT’s one-day convening, teens from across the state of California work collaboratively with adult allies to study health education materials and create original media that showcases their knowledge within the community. CANFIT’s MO Project provides local leaders, community members, and teens alike, with strategies for changing policies and turning their neighborhoods into healthy places.

The training typically includes four interactive sessions – advocacy, spoken word, filmmaking, and youth engagement, but sessions can also be tailored to fit the needs of any community. The overarching goal is to engage youth in fun—yet meaningful—ways that together build a healthier community. To date, the MO Project has successfully involved over 500 youth and carried out numerous media initiatives. One of the most effective initiatives has been an online media contest that invited young people to relate to the program’s message that youth deserve “MO Good Food! MO Safe Places to Play! MO Opportunity!” Teens submitted an original media presentation—either a video, poster, or spoken word—that spoke to what they’d like to see MOre of in their community. With funding from the California Endowment and Kaiser Permanente, contest winners received fun prizes and the satisfaction of contributing to the health of their community.

MO Project youth videos and media demonstrations have been showcased in several California news media outlets and have even reached state and local representatives. MO Project participants have triumphed both through the growth of their own skills as well as their ability to shape funding and laws.

To learn more about engaging youth in YOUR health center, we encourage you to explore our toolkit Lead the Way: Engaging Youth in Health Care and share your comments and stories below!

Youth Engagement Toolkit
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