Our youth are our future. We must ensure that they practice healthy lifestyle choices and behaviours, empowering them to become future champions and influencers of healthy living in our communities.
Youth focus regional initiatives such as ‘Wake Up’ and the ‘Pacific NCD Youth Ambassadors’ advocate healthy lifestyle choices to prevent and control non- communicable diseases (NCDs) in communities through creative platforms.
The NCD youth ambassadors of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) implemented the first phase of ‘One Health, One Marianas nutrition’ with elementary school students, on making healthy food choices from locally grown foods. They also launched their local plate art contest, which involves learning through arts and crafts to promote the consumption of locally grown vegetables.
Ninfa Rabago, CNMI NCD youth ambassador said “the feedback from students after our discussions on nutrition and prevention of NCDs, was encouraging. One of our observations and learning was that the students were not familiar with locally available vegetables, which we are hoping to address through our education sessions and local plate contest”.
Dr Berlin Kafoa, Director of the Public Health Division at the Pacific Community (SPC) stated that “engaging youth to lead NCD awareness amongst their peers allows them the opportunity to advocate and influence behaviour change at a young age and strengthen ‘all of us, all of government’ efforts to address NCDs.”
The CMNI NCD youth ambassadors will roll out their project to 16 public schools in 2023. This collaborative initiative between CNMI and SPC aims to reduce premature mortality from NCDs and contribute to achieving CNMI’s health goals.
The initiative is funded by the Pacific French Fund and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). SPC continues to support NCD youth ambassador groups in CMNI, Fiji, FSM, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna.