Adolescence is a crucial period to develop social and emotional habits that are important for mental health and emotional well-being. Mental health can be extremely fragile, and ensuring young people have the tools and coping mechanisms to manage things like stress and anxiety is important to their development into healthy and productive adults. 4-H is a supportive environment that plays a key role in developing problem-solving and interpersonal skills, which can help improve youth mental health.
4-H offers a positive environment that fosters learning and growth. Personal growth and development are part of 4-H's core values. These values include setting goals, taking responsibility and reflecting on one's conduct. Youth, youths have access to encouraging adult mentors who provide guidance and support, while at the same time showing the importance of acceptance, respect and tolerance. Through internalizing these values, youth gain self-confidence, trust in their peers and a sense of accomplishment from reaching their goals.
4-H encourages youth engagement with hands-on educational activities, meaningful collaborations and social interactions. Through 4-H, youth have the opportunity to express themselves, explore their interests, achieve their goals and strengthen their sense of identity. This can help support the development of a positive self-image and enhance personal resilience.
4-H provides members with opportunities to get involved in their community. This can help build social skills, foster relationships with peers and adults, develop a sense of connectedness to their club and community and boost self-esteem.
4-H also offers a variety of activities, such as camping and other outdoor adventures, which can help build problem-solving, logic, a sense of adventure and communication skills. Additionally, our programs are fun and relaxing, which can help reduce stress.
4-H builds resilience by allowing our youth a safe space to fail. Failure is a part of life, and 4-H members learn to roll with the punches. The work 4-H clubs and projects promote instills in youth the ability to cope with difficult situations, make decisions and practice problem-solving. By promoting emotional development, 4-H helps improve the mental health of its members by providing them with a supportive and safe environment to explore their strengths and develop meaningful relationships.
4-H helps young people build a sense of purpose and accomplishment through project-based learning. Members have the opportunity to choose a project relevant to their interests, work on their project over a period of time, and ultimately share the progress and results with their peers and other community members. This process of planning and completing a project can be a form of therapy for youth as it gives them an opportunity to focus on something positive and encourages them to set a goal and work hard to achieve it.
If you are interested in getting involved in our 4-H program as a member or volunteer, please reach out the La Plata County Extension Office for more information and the steps to get started.