About Health Rocks!®
Health Rocks! applies 4‑H’s successful Positive Youth Development model with life skill development and decision-making philosophy to the challenge of reducing tobacco, alcohol, e-cigarette/vaping and drug use.
Through the power of youth/adult partnerships, Health Rocks! instills in youth participants invaluable confidence and communication skills necessary to make responsible decisions and develop the internal strength to resist risky behaviors.
Health Rocks! utilizes the cornerstone 4‑H “Teens as Teachers” model to build leadership skills, leveraging the influence of young people by engaging teens to empower their peers and families to help establish life-long healthy habits.
Impact of Health Rocks!
For more than 20 years, Health Rocks! has used its unique formula to help youth make healthier life choices. The 2017-2018 program resulted in the following positive changes in youth behavior:
- 95% reported intending to avoid underage tobacco use
- 97% demonstrated high level of social and emotional thriving
- 93% reported intending to pursue healthy behaviors and avoid risky behaviors
- 86% disapproved of risky behavior (i.e. alcohol and tobacco use)
Health Rocks! is now requested through many of the public schools that previously were not interested. Health Rocks! was highlighted as a tool for Extension agents to use for youth prevention at a Substance Misuse Summit. In past years, agents and staff have been reluctant to utilize Health Rocks!, especially in some of the rural areas that did not want to see the larger picture of West Virginia as a pandemic state for smoking-related deaths and now number one in drug overdose deaths per capita. Also, in May 2018, Nila Cobb (Principal Investigator) discussed the Health Rocks! and Health Ambassadors programs to the Substance Misuse Crisis panel on Capitol Hill as an example of an integrated, trauma-informed approach to help children and families.
The increased reach in Pennsylvania is due to the number of teachers who continue to seek out the Health Rocks! materials and the opportunity to work with 4‑H to provide quality, effective Healthy Living classroom activities. A new relationship with the Autistic Support Group at Benjamin Franklin High School in Philadelphia is reaching more youth with the program but is also engaging them through extra participation such as assembling the teacher packets and serving as Teen Teachers for the program. The youth in this group are proud of their involvement and have gained so much confidence and feeling of ownership through their involvement with Health Rocks!.
Washington State University Extension has been asked by the Washington State Department of Health to be the trainer for the Guiding Good Choices program focusing on the parents’ interaction with youth around alcohol, tobacco and drugs. When offering the program, child care needs to be provided for the participants, which is an opportunity to use Health Rocks! with the youth while the parents take the Guiding Good Choices class.
Activities and Resources
A new interactive learning game called Health Rocks! Carnival is now available for free download through iTunes for the iPad to enhance youth learning in the Health Rocks! curricula. As the first app developed for a national 4‑H curriculum, the game was created by Jeff Abele of Move Creative, and Shane Potter and Lyndsey Pohlmeier of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who adapted the game using content from the lessons in the Health Rocks! curricula.
Through this game, youth test their health knowledge by participating in carnival-themed games. The overall health status of their player is determined by how many health points they obtain, which will either turn their player into a superhero or an unhealthy person.