What are they?
Housed in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University, Food and Nutrition Education in Communities programs include youth-focused healthy eating and active living curricula such as Choose Health: Food, Fun, and Fitness (CHFFF) and its related program Choose Health Action Teens (CHAT) developed by Wendy Wolfe.
CHFFF is a comprehensive nutrition and fitness curriculum composed of six hands-on lessons for 3rd-6th graders (8-12-year-olds). The curriculum targets behaviors that research suggests are most important for preventing obesity and chronic disease: eating more fruits and vegetables, reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, and being active for 60 minutes each day. Each lesson includes interactive games, recipes and food preparation, a goal setting challenge, and a family newsletter.
CHAT is a collaborative initiative of the Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development Program and the Division of Nutritional Sciences that engages teens to help deliver CHFFF in schools, after-school programs, camps, and other settings. Teen educators are recruited and provided with a structured 12-hour training, as well as support and mentorship throughout the program. The CHAT Facilitator Guide includes background information, implementation tips, recruitment materials, detailed teen training modules, associated handouts, and evaluation forms.
Who is the target audience?
The CHFFF curriculum is developmentally appropriate for children in 3rd-6th grade and is suggested for a group size of 10-12 children. CHFFF is intended for use by Cooperative Extension educators and others with a background in nutrition and experience working with youth.
Why use CHFFF and CHAT?
CHFFF is an award-winning experiential and research-based curriculum. It supports key messages of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and USDA’s MyPlate and was updated in 2014 based on feedback from experienced educators and from youth focus groups following each CHFFF lesson.
CHFFF leverages experiential learning to teach healthy eating and active play and was designed using the “4A” dialogue approach for increased retention and enhanced application of information and skills. Each lesson includes an Anchor that allows children to connect to their own experiences and interests, new information to Add, a hands-on opportunity to Apply new information, and an Away – a goal setting challenge in which students incorporate new information in their daily lives. Lessons are scripted for clarification and ease. The curriculum includes a thorough overview of objectives and general lesson structure, detailed guidance for facilitation, detailed lesson plans, posters, visuals, handouts, and other teaching aids, and resources for further information.
A unique characteristic of CHFFF is that it can be co-taught by teens participating in the CHAT partner program. CHAT integrates youth civic engagement and healthy lifestyle promotion efforts by training teens to teach younger participants about healthy eating and active living. Evaluation suggests that teen teachers gain leadership and facilitation skills and also apply health, nutrition, and fitness information in their own lives.
Where do I go for more information?
To access CHFFF and CHAT overviews and materials, including introductory webinars, visit: https://fnec.cornell.edu/for-partners/curricula/chfff/ and https://fnec.cornell.edu/for-partners/programs/chat/. Contact Wendy Wolfe, PhD, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University for more information. To learn how to bring group training on facilitating CHFFF and/or CHAT to your area or state, contact Sally Crosiar, consultant and co-author, at www.healthypeoplelearn.com
Alisha Gaines, PhD, Cornell University Division of Nutritional Sciences
Ryan Velasco, Cornell University Division of Nutritional Sciences