4-H Health Jam

4-H Health Jam targets 5th and 6th graders from five rural elementary schools in Northwest Illinois.  It is a 2 day, 1 night camp followed by an eight-week school enrichment session with the goals of increasing participants’ knowledge about health career options as well as their understanding and appreciation of various health topics - focusing on fitness and wellness.

The program is put on through a partnership involving academic training programs (University of Illinois and Sauk Valley Community College), county and state 4-H educators, local classroom teachers and Katherine Shaw Bethea (KSB) in Dixon, Illinois.  

Activities at the Health Jam include: 
  1. Students rotating through five, fifty minute classes focusing on personal health and physical fitness: basic strength training for youth; introduction to the Walk Across Illinois Program; preventing diabetes through a healthy lifestyle; kickboxing for beginners; and 4-H cooperative games.
  1. Students learning from medical students and a pharmacy graduate student about body systems, the duties and responsibilities of what it is like to be a doctor or pharmacist and educational requirements to become a health professional.  Students also learned about nursing from the camp nurse and oral health from dentistry students. 

  1. Students visiting five stations at a rural hospital to observe and learn about duties and responsibilities of three hospital departments: dietary, diagnostic imaging and physical therapy/audiology services.  Students have also learned about Emergency Medical Services (EMS) work and the local county health department’s role in education about protecting health, focusing on hand-washing to avoid risk of illness.
  1. Once a week for 8 weeks following the 4-H Health Jam, students met with the 4-H educator at their individual schools.  During the meetings students explored the various health professions, charted their daily physical activity and participated in other health-related experiential learning activities. 

4-H Health Jam is funded by NCRHP, Illinois Extension and Katherine Shaw Bethea (KSB) Hospital in Dixon, Illinois.  Short and long-term expected outcomes of the health jam are:
  • Exploration of health career opportunities
  • Consideration of health-related careers
  • Engagement in 30 minutes of daily physical activity
  • Choice of physical activity over sedentary activities
  • Application of knowledge to personal food choices
  • Reduction in occurrence of chronic disease
  • Development of skills to remain physically fit for life 
For more information, please contact Dr. Martin MacDowell at MMacD@uic.edu