UACES Facebook Extension Health Ambassador Program changes lives, habits
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Extension Health Ambassador Program changes habits, lives

By Olivia McClure

U of A System Division of Agriculture 

Fast facts:

  • Program includes learning healthy eating, strength training tactics
  • The program is already active in 18 counties

(315 words)  

LITTLE ROCK – A program that teaches Arkansans to take control of their health can also change their lives in other ways, said Lisa Washburn, assistant professor-health, for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

The Extension Wellness Ambassador Program teaches adults the bigger picture on being healthy. The five-week course focuses on a researched collection of topics including: Healthy eating and weight management, avoiding portion distortion (eating more than the recommended portion size), strength training, exercise to improve balance and flexibility, preventing and managing chronic disease, health behavior change strategies that stick and understanding personality types.

"If you come, be prepared for big things to happen in your life,” Washburn said adding that she’s heard participants describe the program as “as life changing.”

The course is currently up and running in 18 counties, with hopes of expanding across the state. That expansion may include adapting the course for teens and college-aged students.

Participants receive expert knowledge and training, an ambassador manual, many resources to use and 40 hours of training. After graduation, participants agree to give back 40 hours in support of healthy living programs.

According to Washburn, the most beneficial part of the program is the internal change participants see: "It opens up your eyes to what affects you, how you affect others, and how your environment influences your decisions. Most importantly it empowers the participants to act."

If you are interested in starting this program in your area, you can contact your county extension agent for more information.

For more information about health and wellness, or contact your county extension office. 

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your county extension office as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126