Empowering High School Students Through Engagement in a Community Event

  •  Steven J. Palazzo    
  •  Ella Sanman    
  •  Laura E. Bicknell    


Background: Obesity continues to afflict adolescents in underserved communities. It is difficult to understand how adolescents perceive empowerment over their health and the health of their communities. The purpose of our study was to describe the impact of the Healthy Heart Ambassador program on adolescents’ perceived empowerment through the development and implementation of a community event. Methods: High school students designed and implemented a cardiovascular health promotion and disease prevention community event using knowledge acquired through participation in the Teen Take Heart program. The HHA program was created based on the Adolescent Empowerment Model, where participants chose a community event they felt would best deliver the cardiovascular health promotion and disease prevention information. Participants completed a post event survey to evaluate their sense of empowerment while participating in the program. Results: The AES addressed two domains and six attributes of psychological empowerment. The results suggest a sense of empowerment resulted from participating in the student-led community event. Conclusion: During the HHA event students were engaged with other students, teachers, and members of their community who attended the event. In addition, groups of students who did not normally interact with each other were cooperating and working as a team.

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