The HYPE Project, partnerships reach national level at 4-H conference

Many organizations across the United States view youth engagement as an important tool for advancing social change, developing youth skills, and teaching youth to become grassroots advocates. The HYPE Project caught the attention of the National 4-H Council and was incorporated into their annual conference in Chevy Chase, Maryland this year.

Eat Smart Move More South Carolina’s (ESMMSC) Trimease Carter and Kelsey Allen traveled to the Walmart 4-H Healthy Habits training on November 1-3 to teach youth and adults the first two phases of the HYPE Project curriculum. More than 120 4-H youth and adult leaders from 34 states and US territories learned about health disparities, community access, and policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change.

According to JoAnne Leatherman, Program Director of Foundations and Healthy Living at the National 4-H Council, they wanted to partner with ESMMSC after attending the 2017 HYPE Project training in Kansas City, Missouri. “ESMMSC’s youth-adult partnerships work to change community health aligned with 4-H’s mission, but 4-H has been focused on the change within the individual rather than PSE change. The HYPE Project curriculum brought in a new element while reinforcing youth-adult partnerships.”

4-H youth and their adult leaders spent two days learning about healthy eating, active living, and the PSE change process. In the Think Phase, they were engaged in the critical thinking process to think beyond the individual level and consider the impacts of community and environmental influences on health. In the Learn Phase, they learned what it means to be a champion for change, how to work with the media, and how to plan a HYPE project.

“When I don’t see teens on their phones, I know we have been successful. This training was lively, engaging, and impactful,” said Leatherman.

Many attendees indicated they plan to use the information they learned by incorporating it into their current programming, discussing community health issues, and implementing PSE projects. Based on conversations and evaluations, youth are interested in PSE changes like creating community gardens.

“I’m looking forward to an ongoing partnership with the National 4-H Council. The opportunities associated with this group will be beneficial to both of our organizations,” said Trimease Carter, Youth Engagement Manager at ESMMSC.

Carter is planning to return to Chevy Chase, Maryland in February at the 4-H National Conference to share additional information on the HYPE Project and policy, systems, and environmental changes.

To learn more about The HYPE Project, visit