Grassroots Healthy Influence

By: Gary Smollen Email
By: Gary Smollen Email

Youth Expression of Health is part of a University of Nebraska Medical Center outreach program. It is a dedicated grassroots effort to change young people’s behavior and improve overall health in the community.

The program definitely inspires the young people.

Mariah Houston has spent a week of her summer break in the Viking Center at North High coming up with a health campaign to show the rest of the youth expression of health group.

This is Mariah's second year with the group and says the grassroots approach works.

Mariah Houston says, "It is small but it works. Even though it's not big you're not going out and having a big event but you are just telling somebody about something that can spread and make a difference."

Ian Combs started the YEOH group ten years ago as a UNMC community outreach program. He figured kids would learn more from interacting with their peers than being lectured to from an adult.

But the program is also about leadership and community service.

Ian Combs says, "They actually go out and teach grade-schoolers, they teach pre-schoolers about things like hand washing and healthy diets and stuff like that."

Mariah is preparing for a career as a medical research scientist she wants to find cures for disease. But not everyone in the program has designs on getting into the medical field.

Ira Combs says, "They are average students and they just want to make a difference so they might not all be the cream of the crop but they are inspired."

And Combs says they put that passion and inspiration to work making a healthier community.

Shortly before the end of the school year UNMC asks local teachers and organizations for the names of young people they feel may benefit from the Youth Expression of Health experience.

The workshop is free and "graduates" approximately 40-young people ready to make a healthy difference in the Metro.

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