Is your community missing safe places to play? Does the equipment in your local park need upgrades? What about healthy food choices? Is there a farmers’ market with fresh fruits and vegetables in your neighborhood or community? What about a community garden that gives produce to people and families? Exactly how do you make your community healthier for everyone?

By becoming youth advocates through The HYPE Project®, teens learn the answers to these questions. They also learn how to ask local community leaders and decision makers for help with making their communities healthier. 

With the help of Wholespire staff, teens ages 12-17 and their adult advisors participate in a series of training sessions to learn about long-term solutions to healthy eating and/or active living issues in their communities. They learn leadership skills that can make them strong, confident, and successful adults, and they become community leaders. 

After the training ends, the HYPE team takes a close look at their communities, whether it be a neighborhood, a school, a church, or a town. They identify healthy options available to their community and factors that discourage making healthy choices.

What keeps someone from using a local park? Are there broken sidewalks that make walking unsafe? What keeps someone from eating healthy food? Is the community surrounded by fast food restaurants? 

As a group, the HYPE team decides what change they want to make and how they will make that change happen. They find out which local community leaders and decision makers can help, and they work together to make their idea a reality.

The HYPE team can choose to work on a variety of projects like:

  • Making a park inviting and safe for people and children with disabilities.
  • Creating a church garden and sharing the produce with members and visitors from their community.
  • Persuading county or town council to build a walking trail in the community.
  • Asking their school food service leaders for a salad bar or to add specific healthy food to the menu.

Youth advocates across South Carolina and in other states have participated in The HYPE Project. They have made a difference in the lives of people in their communities, some who they may not even know, by giving them better opportunities to live healthier lives.

Are you interested in learning how teens can make your community healthier? Do you want to know how your youth group can be the next HYPE team?

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