About Media-Smart Youth




Media-Smart Youth: Eat, Think, and Be Active!® is an interactive after-school education program for youth ages 11 to 13. The curriculum is designed to empower young people to:

  • Become aware of—and think critically about—media's role in influencing their nutrition and physical activity choices.

  • Build skills that help them make informed decisions about being physically active and eating nutritious food in daily life.

  • Establish healthy habits that will last into adulthood.

  • Learn about media and create their own media products to educate their peers.

The curriculum combines media literacy and youth development principles and practices with up-to-date research findings and federal recommendations about nutrition and physical activity. It is also consistent with widely accepted, national learning standards.

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What Do Youth Do in the Program?

Young people participate in 10 structured lessons facilitated by an adult in their after-school or community program. The lessons are based on four key areas and end with a Big Production.

Key Focus Areas

"The youth really do learn about how the media influences their choices."

Media-Smart Youth Facilitator, Cobb & Douglas Public Health

The curriculum focuses on four key areas:

  • Media awareness: Using the 6 Media Questions (PDF - 665 KB), young people learn how to recognize and analyze techniques that media producers use to get their attention and how to evaluate media messages for accuracy and consistency with their ideas about being healthy.

  • Media production: Youth practice what they learn in each lesson by creating Mini-Productions in which they develop their own media messages. The Big Production, the program's culminating project, enables youth to create media products that promote healthy nutrition and physical activity to their peers.

  • Nutrition: A variety of activities encourages youth to choose vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and calcium-rich foods, and to reduce their consumption of solid fats and added sugars. Lessons also encourage youth to be thoughtful when choosing snacks; each lesson includes a Snack Break in which youth enjoy nutritious foods they may not have tried before.

  • Physical activity: Youth learn the importance of daily physical activity and develop strategies to become more active in their daily lives. Physical activity, they discover, is anything that gets their bodies moving, such as walking the dog, dancing, or carrying groceries. A 10-minute Action Break during each lesson engages youth in a fun physical activity.

10 Structured Lessons

Each of the 10 lessons follows a simple structure designed to engage and motivate youth. Below is a sample lesson. You also can view and download individual lessons to learn more.

Lesson Strucure Sample (From Lesson 4)

Activity A: These activities emphasize one of the four key areas of Media-Smart Youth: media awareness, media production, nutrition, or physical activity.

Hurray for Whole Grains! The activity begins with a brief discussion about grains and whole grains and their importance to health. The youth act out a grain milling process to demonstrate the difference between a whole grain and an enriched, refined grain. The activity ends with a quick discussion about ways to choose more whole-grain foods in daily eating.

Snack Break: The delicious and nutritious snacks reinforce the concepts described in the lessons.

Fruit and Krunch Kebabs:Youth make their own kebabs by dipping fruits in fat-free or low-fat yogurt and rolling the fruit in whole-grain breakfast cereal.

Activity B: These activities build on what youth learned during Activity A and further emphasize the objectives of the lesson.

Cutting Back on Solid Fats and Added Sugars: Youth talk about the importance of choosing foods that are low in solid fats and added sugars. They also discuss some major sources of solid fats and added sugars and work in groups to identify ways to reduce consumption of these items when choosing foods and drinks.

Action Break: Youth have the chance to get up, get active, and get energized.

A Cool Wind Blows: Similar to musical chairs, this activity has youth answer questions related to media, food, and physical activity while switching chairs. The person left without a chair at the end of a round asks a question in the next round, until everyone has a turn.

Activity C—Mini-Production: Youth use the skills they have learned in the lesson to create a simple media product, such as a blog, jingle, skit, billboard, or page for a social networking site.

Creating a Nutrition Fan Page for a Social Networking Site: Youth design a mock page for other young people, which incorporates the food and nutrition topics covered so far in the workshop—increasing consumption of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain foods and reducing consumption of solid fats and added sugars.

Finishing Up the Lesson: Youth summarize the day's lesson, ask questions, and receive take-home materials with targeted tips for practicing their media smarts.

Finishing Up the Lesson: Youth share something interesting or fun they learned during the lesson and get a chance to ask questions. They also receive the Take Home a New Idea! and Tips for Media-Smart Parents handouts before they leave.