Youth Task Force

Project Description

[Note this project has ended.] The Youth Task Force (YTF) was a group of high school students who conducted research projects to inform the work of the HPRC and its community partners. The YTF was created to: 1) enhance the center’s research capability by providing access to information and perspectives that youth may be more likely to share with peers than adult professionals; 2) provide a participatory role for youth in the research process; and 3) allow youth to build research and leadership skills.

The Youth Task Force was composed of 6 to 12 students, 15 to 18 years of age, recruited from high schools and recreation centers to reflect community diversity and the HPRC study population. Youth were introduced to the mission of the HPRC and educated in the center’s core research areas of obesity, nutrition, physical activity, and the public health approach. Youth and staff, with guidance from the senior research team, chose a project that aligns with the overall mission of the HPRC and the available time and competencies of YTF members. They were then trained in the necessary research methods, ranging from focus group questionnaire creation, observational methods, survey creation, and human subjects research considerations. A few months were spent on data collection and analysis. Finally, students presented their research to community partners and in appropriate venues such as local conferences.

Funder: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Funding Dates: 2002-2011
Contact: Angie Cradock


Youth Task Force Student Presentations

2010-2011: In addition to conducting a research project, the Youth Task Force competed in and won the 2nd place prize of $500 in the Boston Public Health Commission’s “Drink Responsibly: Be Sugar Free” video contest. The youth contest was created to raise awareness of the harmful health effects of drinking sugar-sweetened beverages. Check out the Youth Task Force’s video, Use Some Water!

Summer 2010: “Around the Water Cooler”  Conducted focus groups with children and youth across Boston to gather information on young people’s perceptions of the quality and safety of water from different sources and their drinking water preferences.

2008–2009: “There’s Always After School…” Used Food & Fun observation and interview tools to learn more about the physical space, physical activity practices, food and nutrition, and staff at 6 afterschool programs in Boston.

2007–2008: “What You Do Starts in the Middle” Created and administered a survey on physical activity, eating and drinking, sleeping, and screen time habits to gather information on health related behaviors of middle school students.

2006–2007: “Food on Wheels” (1) Observed product prices and availability and student purchasing behavior at canteen trucks at 5 Boston high schools; conducted a focus group with high school girls regarding canteen trucks and their school breakfast program; observed foods available in school breakfast programs and at school stores.  (2) Examined prices and locations of healthy and unhealthy drinks in corner stores near middle schools to examine how schools and corner stores can promote healthy drinks such as milk and water.

2005–2006: “Livin’ Fit” Created a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Rendon Group’s Livin’ Fit grant application, including RFP content and selection criteria. After developing a selection process YTF members reviewed the proposals and chose winners.

2004–2005: “Hey, How Do You Feel about Physical Education?” Surveyed high schools students in 15 Boston public and private high schools about their experiences with physical education in school.

2003–2004: “Where and Why Are Youth Eating Fast Food?” Surveyed high school students regarding their fast food eating habits and created a map of the locations of fast food restaurants near 14 Boston public high schools.

2002–2003: Taught Planet Health lessons to middle school students

Other Resources

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Adolescent Health’s Youth Advisory Committee served as the model in creating the HPRC Youth Task Force.