Dr. Monica Wang, assistant professor of community health sciences at the Boston
University School of Public Health, has received a five-year, $3.3 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases for a first-of-its-kind initiative to reduce sugary drink consumption and obesity risk at 10 Boys & Girls Clubs (BGC) around Massachusetts.
The H2GO! Program will use an empowerment strategy based on youth-produced narratives, scaling up from a pilot study last year at the BGC in Worcester, MA. That study found participants and their parents and guardians consumed fewer sugary drinks and more water over a six-month period, and the youths had decreased body mass index (BMI) scores, compared to counterparts at a demographically-similar BGC in nearby Lowell.
“What’s most exciting to me is that we designed this program to empower youth as positive change agents in their families and communities,” Dr. Wang says. “The breadth of creativity and depth of the personal stories they shared in the pilot study has by far been the most rewarding aspect of the project to witness.”
In the six-week H2GO! sessions, BGC staff will lead nine- to twelve-year-olds in activities promoting replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with water, including blind taste tests of flavored water, a corner store scavenger hunt, and role play skits about ways to drink water and what to do when tempted by sugary drinks. The youths will also create narratives to promote replacing sugary drinks with water and provide strategies for doing so—and teach their parents or guardians what they have learned each week by sharing their stories. The youths then lead a culminating BGC community event, featuring their narratives and taste tests.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on February 07