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“The T.H.I.N.K program is a forward step in the right direction towards the betterment of our next generation of leaders.  Poor health puts limitations on how we can live our lives. This program gave teens some basic life skills that they need to not only be productive citizens but to be healthier and live a healthier life.”



Wash Away Unemployment

New Bern, NC

Craven County

Knowing that behavior is perhaps one of the hardest things to change, Wash Away Unemployment started the Teen Health Initiative Knowledge (T.H.I.N.K) program. T.H.I.N.K conducts age-appropriate workshops promoting healthy behaviors for disadvantaged youth between 12-18 years old.  Workshops were held twice a month over 4 months.  Each workshop (~ 2 hours) was led by experts, ranging from local chefs to dieticians and financial experts. On average, there were 10-12 participants per workshop.

Aside from basic nutrition and cooking skills, participants also learned about:

  • Food Justice, which challenged the youth to think about where their food comes from, how to eat in a way that sustains the local economy (i.e: farmers markets), and how food affects the environment.

  • Grocery Store Tour – led by THINK Program Coordinator, Tiffany Purdie, the youth learned to navigate the grocery store, shop healthy food on a budget, and interpret nutrition labels. At the end of the tour, each youth was given a $10 gift card and challenged to buy groceries based on MyPlate.

  • Financial Literacy – the youth learned to make informed money decisions by understanding the dangers of debts, benefits of savings accounts and uses of credit cards.​

The program ended with a youth cooking competition judged by three local chefs.  Youth were given 30 mins to make a healthy meal out of ingredients they were given on the spot. The winner received a trophy and all participants received a box of cooking utensils.


If you want to start a similar program, brainstorm and then plan. Some things you might consider:

  • Think about what topics you want to cover and the target audience.

  • Once you have topics, identify potential presenters.

  • Think about how long and often your program will run. Consider your audience. If your organization already runs a youth program, think about incorporating workshops into existing programming or starting a shorter pilot program. 

  • If you don’t have youth in mind, more work will be required to connect with youth-serving organizations and advertise your program – post on social media frequently leading to the date of the event and throughout the program, put up flyers around the neighborhood, make public announcements in your church or schools. 

  • Make sure you have a venue that is convenient and accessible.

  • Make sure you have the materials you need – cooking equipment, utensils and handouts.​







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