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Making a Difference: Tennessee 4-H Health Rocks!

The Mission

The World has a health crisis. Smoking, binge drinking, and illegal drug use cause catastrophic effects to health. Tennessee has not escaped this crisis, and in many ways, the crisis is worse in Tennessee than elsewhere. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that among Tennessee high school students, 12.6 percent have used chewing tobacco snuff or dip on at least one day during the past 30 days before being surveyed. This is significantly above the national average of 7.7 percent. Substance abuse among adolescents is linked to depression, unintentional injuries, suicide, and homicide. Multi-year evaluation demonstrates that the partnership has had a positive result on youth knowledge, skills, assets, and intent. The program consists of 10 hours of instruction in drug, alcohol, and tobacco prevention. The program partnership started in 2008 and has involved 125 faculty members and over 102,000 students and youths.

The Partners

SMALLER-Health-Rocks!-(Cannon-County)Community partners include local Boards of Education in 16 counties, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Smoky Mountains, and the YMCA of Middle Tennessee. University of Tennessee, Knoxville partners include Extension-Department of 4-H Youth Development, Department of Extension Evaluation and Staff Development, and 16 local Extension Offices.

Impact on UT

4-H Health Rocks! is a UT Extension program that helps young people to resist tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use. The program includes a two-part, evidence-based curricula with the beginning level curriculum geared toward youth ages 8-12 and the intermediate curriculum is designed for youth ages 12-14. UT Extension developed effective, sustainable community partnerships across the state for the 4-H Health Rocks program, including schools, health departments, and other youth-serving organizations.

The partnership used a multi-year evaluation and summary of this report was printed for all community partners, funding agencies, and UT Extension faculty. UT Extension faculty have taken a much greater interest in effective, multi-year program evaluation as a tool for developing stronger partnerships and programs.

Impact on Community

4-H Health Rocks! reached over 102,000 young people in Tennessee for 2008 through 2012. All of those young people completed at least 10 hours of Health Rocks! Programming. The Tennessee program demonstrated the following through participant surveys: 17 percent increase in the number of youth who now understand that illegal drug use causes psychotic behavior. Fifteen percent increase in the number of youth who understand that illegal drug use affects relationships with family and friends. Thirteen percent increase in the number of youth who report that they are able to say “no” if offered cigarettes. Thirteen percent increase in the number of youth who report that they would help other youth stay away from alcohol and other drugs and a 12 percent increase in the number of youth who now have long-term goals in life.

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State 4-H Office, 865-974-2128, or email