Welcome to the Media-Smart Youth: Eat, Think, and Be Active Web site!

What is Media-Smart Youth?

Media-Smart Youth: Eat, Think, and Be Active! is an interactive after-school education program for young people ages 11 to 13. It is designed to help teach them about the complex media world around them, and how it can affect their health--especially in the areas of nutrition and physical activity. Through media production, Media-Smart Youth motivates young people

What are the program's goals?

Media-Smart Youth works to:

  • Help 11- to 13-year olds become aware of--and think critically about--how media can affect their nutrition and physical activity choices.
  • Help young people build the skills to make good decisions about being physically active and eating nutritiously in daily life.
  • Encourage young people to establish healthy habits that will last into adulthood.

Media-Smart Youth is not a weight loss program, but rather is a health promotion program. It helps young people become critical, creative thinkers. Media-Smart Youth teaches them to analyze, evaluate, and create media messages--skills that can help them make smart and positive choices about nutrition and physical activity every day.

What do youth do in the Media-Smart Youth program?

  1. Media awareness: The program uses 6 Media Questions (PDF - 162.92 KB) that help young people learn to analyze and recognize ways the media tries to get their attention, and to evaluate these media messages for accuracy and for consistency with their ideas about being healthy.
  2. Nutrition: A variety of activities encourage youth to make healthy snack choices, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and calcium-rich foods, and to reduce the amount of fat and added sugar they eat. Each lesson includes a Snack Break during which young people learn to make a nutritious snack and receive a recipe to take home and share with their families.
  3. Physical activity: Participants learn the importance of daily physical activity for good health and develop strategies for becoming more active. A 10-minute Action Break during each lesson engages youth in a fun physical activity.
  4. Media production: In each lesson, youth express what they learn by creating a Mini-Production, in which they develop their own media messages. The Big Production, the program's final project, lets youth to create a media project (such as a public service announcement, a poster, a Web page, etc.) that promotes healthy nutrition and physical activity to their peers. In this way, they learn by doing - taking what they know about how the media works and putting it into practice in their own media project.

For a brief overview of the topics covered in each lesson, check out Media-Smart Youth At-A-Glance (PDF - 83.26 KB).

The Introduction and Overview (PDF - 998.75 KB) from the Media-Smart Youth Facilitator's Guide also provides more information about the program and how you can use it. In it, you'll find:

  • Introducing Media-Smart Youth, which provides background on why and how the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) created this curriculum.
  • Preparing for the Curriculum, which describes some of the key steps and decisions to consider before conducting the Media-Smart Youth curriculum; this information is most helpful for program directors, agency staff, and facilitators.
  • Paying Attention to the Details, which provides the information that facilitators need to carry out the Media-Smart Youth lessons.