Success StoryHealth Rocks!

Health Rocks!

Author: Leah VanMeter

Planning Unit: McCreary County CES

Major Program: Health

Plan of Work: Active Living and Health Promotions

Outcome: Initial Outcome

Per the CDC, by the time students complete high school, 2/3 of students have tried alcohol and 1/2 report having ever used marijuana. According to the CDC, teen substance use can affect the growth and development of teen, specifically brain development, increases the odds of  other risky behavior such as unprotected sex and dangerous driving, and can contribute to the development of chronic health issues as adults. The CDC also notes that early initiation of substance use increases the chances of substance use/addiction later in life.  Nationwide 8.33% of 12-17 year-olds (2.08 million) reported using drugs in the past month per report by the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS). According to the same report, 1 in 8 teenagers report abusing an illicit substance in the last year. 86% of teenagers know of someone who is smoking, drinking, or using drugs during the school day. Per NCDAS, 24,000 of Kentucky teens (12-17 y/o) reported drug use in the past month. According to this report, 11.42% of Kentucky teens report using marijuana in the past year, 0.59% report using cocaine, 0.29% report using methamphetamines, 2.64% report misusing pain relievers, 9.67% reported alcohol use.

Due to the high percentage of students who will have experimented with substance use prior to high school graduation, there exists a need for early intervention and education on substance use prevention. Health Rocks! is a 4H curriculum that seeks to reduce tobacco, alcohol, e-cigarette/vaping, and drug use by promoting the development of confidence and communication skills needed by students to make responsible decisions and resist risky behaviors. The Health Rocks! curriculum is geared towards 8-14 years old students.  H H  

This program was delivered as part of McCreary County’s 4H summer camp in Jabez, KY. 144 students between ages 8-14 participated in activities and lessons in the Health Rocks! Program. Throughout the week, students participated in activities focused on building healthy relationships, developing self-confidence, increasing knowledge of healthy behaviors, learning the importance of friendship and how to be a better friend, working as a team, and developing communication skills. Students also attended classes taught by McCreary County Cooperative Extension staff where the focus was on identifying the characteristic of good friends and developing personal skills as a friend. As part of the class, students also worked to created friendship washer bracelets.

144 students participated in the program. Students completed a survey at the completion of the program. The majority of students indicated that they learned from their participation in the program. Students also demonstrated understanding of the importance of friendship and participated in self-reflection on how “good” of a friend they were. Students identified areas where they could improve as friends. Students demonstrated understanding of information through verbal and written surveys.

Research shows that positive, trustworthy relationships are essential when reinforcing healthy behaviors, including the avoidance of substance use.  In 4H, and specifically through this week at 4H camp, students are given the opportunity to develop these healthy, positive relationships. 90% of students indicated in a verbal survey that they had made a new friend during the week. By providing opportunities for students to develop friendships, as well as education on how to be a good friend, the intention is to equip students with the skills and tools to make good decision and avoid risky behaviors, such as substance abuse.

Teen Substance Use & Risks | CDC

Teenage Drug Use Statistics [2021]: Data & Trends on Abuse (

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