In February 2021 a cohort of 4-H teens and adult advisors participated in the virtual 4-H National Healthy Living Summit. Each year this Summit invites 4-Hers from around the country to participate in learning pathways like phyisical fitness, nutrition, substance abuse and mental health. Something new this year was an opportunity for each state to participate in a "Dolphin Tank" experience where an Action Plan was formulated in a youth-adult partnership, and then submitted to 4-H National Council, for a chance to be awarded $1,000 to bring the plan to life.
New Hampshire decided to go for it, and submitted a proposal with a focus on mental health and wellbeing through the lens of our 4-H's, Head, Heart, Hands and Health. The idea is to practice mental health in a holistic way, so each H helped move a young person and their family to good mental health. Would you believe it if we told you that we were awarded the Dolphin Tank funds! We planned our kits with a goal of sending out 50 kits to youth around the state. In four days 245 families had requested kits, with 455 youth in total! We wanted our community to practice kindness as well as mental health and wellbeing, and for a very special reason.
At the Healthy Living Summit our keynote speaker was restaurant owner Kazi Mannan, a person that puts kindness first every day. Kazi lives in Washington D.C. and has made it his personal mission to help the homeless population in D.C. by opening his restaurant for any person, regardless of whether they can pay for their meal. Many community members help propel this mission forward by contributing more for the meal they are buying themselves. It was Kazi that jumpstarted our desire to include a "Kindness Challenge" for each activity area in our Kindness Kits.
4-H has always focused on giving our hands to larger service, and a goal of our Kindness Kits were for each person to remember that means to be kind to themselves and to others. Meetings some of the families that are participating has shown myself, and co-author recent 4-H graduate Kailey Deighan, that our New Hampshire community wants to jump into kindness with both feet. So stay tuned for more opportunities to come together as a community this year with our service learning projects!