Belmont County Extension Service
The interactive program Road Trip: Life–Navigating Your Future teaches teenage girls how to live healthier lives and make smarter life choices.
Belmont County Extension’s Road Trip Program Helps High School Girls Live Healthy
Ohio State University’s Belmont County Extension Service has created an engaging, interactive program that is making a difference among teen girls in the County. The “Road Trip: Life—Navigating Your Future” program gets high school girls thinking about the choices they make, in everything from food to relationships. The program’s interactive curriculum helps the information presented come alive, and exit surveys show that anywhere from 49 percent to 66 percent of girls (depending on the topic) report that they “learned a lot” in the session. In 2012, the program reached 524 teens in the County’s seven high schools.
Polly Loy, Extension Educator for Family and Consumer Sciences at BCES, says the creative curriculum is the key to the program’s success. While the sessions occur during the school day, they are designed to feel different than a normal class, with a strong emphasis on interaction. The program covers seven topics: improved nutrition; increased physical activity; good choices related to drugs, tobacco, alcohol, and driving; smart and safe dating practices; stress management; and anti-bullying. These unfold through four-hour, half-day sessions run for two weeks. Loy reports that the courses have become “something these girls really look forward to.”
Road Trip targets freshmen and sophomore girls and utilizes a variety of volunteers as teachers, including yoga and Pilates instructors. From being served a nutritious breakfast as part of the Eat This Not That presentations to doing resistance band exercises during the Energize with Exercise session, the Road Trip: Life curriculum affords teenagers many hands-on learning opportunities. Each student also receives a nylon drawstring backpack containing a folder of educational materials related to the topics of the day, along with fun, health-related incentive items. Take-home exercises facilitate communication between the teens and their parents on the topics covered. Exit surveys among the 1600 participants that have been reached through the program thus far indicate that many participants plan to implement the things they’ve learned in their sessions.