Youth Advocates for Health, or YA4-H!, is a positive youth development program in WSU Extension’s Youth and Family Unit. YA4-H! develops teens as leaders and advocates for health within their communities. This program was led by Dr. Elizabeth Weybright and Dr. Ashley Hernandez-Hall in collaboration with county Extension faculty across the state. Built on a foundation of positive youth development and the 4-H Essential Elements of belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity, YA4-H! provides opportunities to teens to develop skills to successfully navigate the transition to adulthood. YA4-H! is flexible in that it can be used to promote a variety of health behaviors. This means that in addition to positive youth development outcomes, teens and the youth they teach are exposed to healthy lifestyle content.
Since 2013, YA4-H! has received $575,000 in extramural funding from National 4-H Council and partners including ConAgra Foods, United Health Care, and Walmart Foundation. These funds have been used to engage 13,000 youth, 300 teens, and countless family and community members.
WSU Extension YA4-H! is implemented in three components of:
1. youth-adult partnerships,
2. teens as teachers, and
3. youth participatory action research.