The National 4-H Council has been awarded a $1 million grant by the Wal-Mart Foundation to launch Youth Voice: Youth Choice, a national program to encourage young people to develop and maintain healthy, active lifestyles.

To fund the program, 4-H programs in 15 selected states will be awarded $50,000 grants to develop, strengthen and implement healthy living programs at the community level. 4-H members will work in tandem with land-grant university experts and 4-H volunteers to mobilize other young people and get them excited about living healthy lives. Youth are then empowered to create action plans to share with their county commissioners, school boards, health caucuses and state legislative offices.

“Health is the fourth ‘H’ in the 4-H pledge,” says Donald Floyd, Jr., National 4-H Council president and CEO. “As a national leader in health-related issues, 4-H is already reaching 2.5 million youth in all 50 states with nutrition and wellness programs, providing opportunities to build confidence and healthier lifestyles. With this generous new grant, we will be able to reach even more young people with these important messages.”

The action plans created by participants will create sustainable healthy living programs in their local communities, identify and overcome the barriers to healthy living, and raise public awareness for wellness. The programs will also encourage the development of partnerships with local stakeholders and champions to expand the reach of the 4-H Healthy Living program area.