The Empowering Youth and Families Program is led by an Executive Team from NC State University, East Carolina University, and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and funded by the Rural Health and Safety Education (RHSE) Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) from the United States Department of Public Health and Human Services.
What We Do
The NC 4-H Empowering Youth and Families Program (EYFP) is a family leadership program for middle school youth and their caregivers. Participating families attend 10 weekly sessions in their county and a “Confluence” family retreat. Each session has been carefully designed to address the unique needs of youth, caregivers, and families, and each includes fun team building activities, a sit-down family meal, and social time with other families in the program.
At the end of the program, families put their new skills into practice. Together with other local EYFP families, they organize and host a community-wide healthy living event to share their learning and take concrete steps in their community to prevent opioid-related deaths among teens.
Participants attend 10 meetings where they learn how to use brain science and child development research to build stronger families. Each session includes a family meal, social time, separate sessions tailored to adults and youth, and a lesson for adults and youth together. EYFP teaches families how to use their values to set common goals and expectations and to hold one another accountable. Participants learn how to use brain science and child development research to recognize differences between emotions and behaviors and respond appropriately to each. Caregivers and youth are equipped to replace unproductive/counterproductive communication strategies with productive ones.
NC 4-H EYFP began in 2017 serving 10 families in 3 North Carolina counties. Since then, we have grown to 11 counties across North Carolina and Tennessee. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also been able to expand our curriculum offerings to include virtual and hybrid formats. As a result, participating counties can now choose which delivery system(s) best meet the needs of their local participants.
The Goal is Prevention
“Prevention” sometimes is conflated with intervention (i.e., “preventing” recidivism).
EYFP is a true prevention program, aimed primarily at the families of youth who have not started misusing opioids. Participants learn how opioids and other illegal substances affect the brain and refusal skills they can use if presented with a dangerous choice. They also learn how to listen, talk about difficult subjects, and work as a team in ways that build strong families.
- Goal I: Reduce youth substance misuse in rural NC and TN
- Goal II: Increase caregivers’ parenting skills to assist youth in making healthy choices
- Goal III: Enhance family relationships
- Goal IV: Empower families to lead community change, thereby leveraging support for healthier lifestyles within those communities
Meet the people Who Make Our Work Possible
EYFP is powered by passionate people who are committed to strengthening families connection.
EYFP is currently being piloted in the above counties across North Carolina and Tennessee.
If your county is not highlighted, please contact us.