Disparities in youth obesity continue despite an increasing number of programs designed to combat this challenge. Policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) changes hold promise for these populations. This study identifies lessons from adult leaders for youth advocacy programs. Youth Engagement & Action for Health! (YEAH!) is a youth advocacy curriculum for PSE change that promotes healthy behaviors. From 2017-2019, 18 youth-serving organizations recruited 11-14 year olds from low-income urban, suburban, and rural areas. 237 participants in 19 youth groups completed YEAH! with 28 adult leaders. YEAH! adult leaders completed pre- and post-surveys on adult leader characteristics, group structure and dynamics, barriers to success, and technical assistance needs. Researchers interviewed adult leaders at the completion of each YEAH! project. This community based participatory research (CBPR) project engaged adult leaders to collect data, analyze coded transcripts and interpret results. Clubs evaluated with positive outcomes were facilitated by adult leaders who had previous engagement with the youth, showed enthusiasm for youth advocacy, and had access to resources to motivate group cohesion, participation, and commitment. The adult leader steering committee synthesized the findings into a set of best practices and strategies to help group leaders be as successful as possible when leading future youth advocacy groups.
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