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4-H youth members show ‘exceptional’ resiliency

Show your colours - Attendees at the 4-H Ontario head office in Rockwood showed off their green-wear for National Show Your 4-H Colours Day on Nov. 1.  Photo by Jaime Myslik

4-H youth members show ‘exceptional’ resiliency

by Jaime Myslik

ROCKWOOD - 4-H is filling a very important role in helping kids with different needs, all needs, become positive contributors to their community,” said University of Guelph doctoral research candidate Heather Sansom.

She shared her research findings at the National Show Your 4-H Colours Day celebration at the Ontario 4-H office in Rockwood on Nov. 1.

Those involved with 4-H across Canada were encouraged to wear green on Nov. 1 to show their pride in the program.

“It allows us as 4-H members, volunteers, parents, whoever is involved in the 4-H program, to shout from rooftops what 4-H has done for us in our lives,” said 4-H Ontario president Brad Found.

Sansom used 4-H as the basis for her research on resiliency in youth.

“When I looked at rural areas and I looked at the situation in Canada, we have widespread population issues with youth well-being that are especially worse in rural areas,” she said.

“We’re talking about systemic issues which put up a lot of barriers for a lot of families and a lot of youth and I was really interested in 4-H as a community-based organization that runs on a shoestring and is very affordable for all income brackets.”

She wanted to know what life skills and youth development was facilitated by 4-H and how each happened.

Sansom surveyed 400 members and conducted interviews.

“They showed exceptionally high scores in resilience and quite a wide range of other life skill outcomes for various reasons,” she said. “The 4-H formula of putting these various elements together seemed to be particularly successful and something that anybody working with youth could take a page from and some of the key factors were scaffolding the youth through progressive challenges over time.

“We found that the longer the kids were in the program the higher their resilience scores were.”

She said she also found that all children benefited from the program no matter what their physical, mental or family circumstance.

“We were finding it was really leveling the playing (field),” she said.

“So for rural communities (it) is particularly important because rural communities have a different economic situation.

“We found that in the current climate where education is largely geared toward educating people for urban jobs ... 4-H was really filling an important educational space but it was also filling an important general skills space where kids that might otherwise fall through the cracks ... were actually being equipped to earn a good living and to contribute positively in their communities.”

Her presentation took place at a morning event that celebrated 4-H across the world through National Show Your Colours Day.   

“It’s great to be part of the celebrations and as we all know 4-H is very alive and well,” said Brian Little, chair of the 4-H Ontario foundation.

In Ontario there are over 6,000 4-H club members and 1,900 leaders and in Canada there are 25,000 club members and 7,700 leaders.

November 10, 2017


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