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The Sanpete Messenger

Ephraim family program earns national 4H award

At Utah State University Extension’s 4-H Family Fun Nights program, families enjoy hands-on activities that build and strengthen their bonds.

 

Ephraim family program

earns national 4H award

 

By Linda Petersen

Staff writer

Dec. 14, 2017

 

EPHRAIM—The Utah State University Extension in Ephraim has received a national award for its 4-H Family Fun Nights program.

For the past three years, the Extension staff has put on a free program each month for families at each of the North Sanpete School District schools in conjunction with the afterschool programs it has been providing since 2012,.

Assistant Professor Shannon Cromwell and her team were honored for their efforts at the recent National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences 2017 annual conference with a first-place national and first-place Western Region School Wellness Award.

Cromwell’s team members include Matt Palmer, Cheryl Bartholomew, Roxie DeBiasi, Carol Zanocco, Laura Lister, Berny Lister, Chelsey Black, Sue Black and Kaden Hanks.

At the Family Fun Nights, families work together on a variety of hands-on wellness activities. These activities, some arts and crafts activities, some science or other activities, promote healthy living and communication and strengthen families, Cromwell said.

The activities have included everything from relay races to a Harry Potter-themed party where families enjoyed Harry Potter games, activities and snacks they made.

Generally, the activities mirror the themes of the afterschool programs.

Cromwell estimates more than 1,000 children and their families have attended the various Family Fun Nights in the past three years. The program is open to the families of all school-aged children in the district.

For their December activity at the elementary schools, students and their families visited with Santa and Mrs. Claus, made a craft and enjoyed holiday movies and snacks.

Funding for Family Fun Nights and the afterschool programs was provided by a Department of Workforce Services grant. This is the last year of the grant, but Cromwell said they intend to raise funds through a variety of methods to continue the program.

In a recent survey by the Extension, parents who responded strongly agreed that 4-H Family Fun Nights provided:

  • Positive structured activities for their family — 81 percent
  • Inexpensive opportunities to strengthen family relationships and build family bonds — 76 percent.
  • Opportunities to communicate with their child(ren) through hands-on activities — 69 percent

“My children love it, and it’s a safe place for them to feel independent,” one parent responded.

Parents also said they had seen some positive changes as a result of participating in the program.

“As a family, we have learned some new things, strengthened our ties to each other and to other families in the community,” another said.

The School Wellness award recognizes outstanding school-based programs that promote and improve physical, emotional and/or social wellness of students, staff or families of students in the school community.