Year: 
2021
Project Leader: 
Kenna Knight, Amy Kostelic, Alex Vazsonyi, David Weisenhorn, and Alex Elswick
Department/Program: 
FCS Extension
Funding Received: 
$994

Raising a teenager can be stormy and stressful at times but much of their poor judgement, impulsiveness, risky behavior and bad decision-making is the result of a growing and developing brain, in addition to identity exploration. By understanding the developmental changes taking place within the adolescent brain, teenage judgement and decision-making can be better appreciated. In addition, such understanding reinforces the importance of enhancing brain health and protecting the adolescent brain from harm. Brain health includes getting enough sleep, avoiding drugs and alcohol, managing emotions, participating in physical activity and healthy eating, engaging in meaningful relationships and practicing personal safety. A healthy brain is important because it enhances the ability to concentrate, learn, plan and remember. A healthy brain throughout the lifespan can also help to reduce some risks associated with aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease.  Due to success with adolescent brain health materials in Pendleton County, FCS Agent Kenna Knight collaborated with Extension Faculty Amy Kostelic and former FCS Specialist Angelic Reina to develop and publish an FCS curriculum on Adolescent Brain Health. The program was launched at the FCS in-service on May 2, 2017.  Forty-two FCS agents participated in the training, but to date, no agents have reported evaluation data. To help encourage agents to teach this important program, the goal of this project is to elevate the program to "major program" status. Dr. Alex Vazsonyi, from the Department of Family Sciences (focus area: child and adolescent development), Alex Elswick, the new FCS Specialist for Substance Use Prevention and Recovery and Dr. David Weisenhorn, FCS Senior Extension Specialist for Parenting and Child Adolescence Education, will join the team to review the current materials and activities and work together to revise the program. The program will then be piloted in 15 counties across Kentucky.