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Media-Smart Youth: Eat, Think, and Be Active! is an interactive after-school education program that helps young people ages 11 to 13 understand the complex media world around them, and how it can influence their health-especially in regard to nutrition and physical activity. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), part of the National Institutes of Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, created Media-Smart Youth to empower young people to think critically about media and make thoughtful decisions about nutrition and physical activity.

The NICHD developed the Media-Smart Youth curriculum and then conducted a rigorous review and testing of the concepts and materials. The initial program was implemented by youth-serving organizations across the nation. Facilitators and youth participants provided feedback, which was incorporated into the program materials.

Media-Smart Youth combines youth-development principles and practices with the most current research findings and general recommendations about nutrition and physical activity. The program is consistent with national learning standards.

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

  • Media awareness: The program uses 6 Media Questions (PDF 1.96 MB) 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • To Learn more about the Media-Smart Youth Program, go to their homepage.
    Media-Smart Youth


    Youth Empowerment in Action!
    College of Education
    University of Missouri - St. Louis
    One University Blvd.
    St. Louis, MO 63121 USA