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4-H healthy living plan makes mark on 4-H'ers in the local area

WILLMAR -- Without the mention of a vegetable, area teens are teaching youth the importance of healthy lifestyle choices through "Stepping Out," a new program launched by Minnesota 4-H. Willmar was chosen as one of 20 Minnesota cities to pilot the program, which was funded by a grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation.

Throughout December and January, three Willmar Senior High School students along with their adviser, Tracy Texley, have partnered with 15 Kennedy Elementary School students for weekly sessions aimed to promote healthy lifestyles.

Activities have included outdoor cooking, yoga, and jumping rope.

According to Jodi Bakke, 4-H program coordinator, a major goal of the curriculum is to get kids moving outdoors. On the first day of the program, teens were able to lead elementary students outdoors to experience goecaching, a sport which uses GPS units to pinpoint "caches" which have been hidden throughout the world and must be located using only coordinates.

"The kids really look up to the high school teachers," Bakke said.

"It's really about youth teaching youth and gaining additional leadership experiences."

Bakke said the program has proven successful and will more than likely be extended to include an extra session.

-- Jenna Dillon