Obesity Prevention within Minority Youth in Sullivan County, Tennessee

What if health disparities among minority youth was eliminated?

Photo of Linda Brittenham
2 0

Written by

Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

In working with at-risk youth in our county, it is evident that obesity was a major contributor to health related issues. The long-term mental and physical health complications associated with obesity are numerous and need to be addressed through public health interventions especially within minority populations. Partnerships among various entities within the community and building relationships among the minority youth needed to be joined in order to create health interventions.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian)
  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)

If you chose to self-identify your race, ethnicity, or origin, please share here: (the answer will not be public)




Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Tennessee

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]


Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Tennessee

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Kingsport and Sullivan County Tennessee

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In 2013, 17 percent of Tennessee youth were obese, resulting in Tennessee being tied for the third most obese state in the US. Sullivan County rates for obesity ranks some of the highest in the state. To impact this marker, an educational intervention to seek to provide minority youth with basic nutritional knowledge, promote healthy eating habits, and expose participants to local nutritional resources within their communities was developed.

Hope is the essence of one's future. In Sullivan County the H.O.P.E (Help Our Potential Evolve) foundation is about empowering youth by offering choices concerning health, education and opportunities. Community partnerships build personal relationships that offer resources for all youth.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Education

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

From the first Healthy U program execution, overall survey results concluded that participants did learn from this nutritional intervention. Students felt that they can make healthy decisions and will continue to strive to do so. Participants realized they needed to intake more fresh produce but felt they have the resources and knowledge to make healthier choices. This project collaborated with local organizations to bring together resources and knowledge to educate this specific population as a community. It is important for the community resources to continue to work towards decreasing the gap and working towards eliminating health disparities for under-served populations regionally.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In the Healthy U program the participant’s responses to the question, “I feel like I learned from this program.” The majority of participants (96 percent) felt they learned nutritional information from this program. This question shows the value of this health intervention. This program as well as other projects offered through the H.O.P.E. organization such as college tours, resume writing, CPR, First Aid, Baby-Sitting Certification, Budgeting and various other opportunities empower minority youth. These programs need to be expanded and others added to impact a positive approach to enhanced the future for our youth. Disparities must be eliminated one step at a time using a collective impact approach. In the coming years more youth need to be served in order to continue to make a difference and more community entities added to the partnership.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $1k - $10k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Financial support resources for H.O.P.E. include Kingsport City, Eastman Chemical Company, Regions Bank, Domtar, other local agencies as well as annual fund-raisers (both Board of Directors and youth) and in-kind donations. Additional funding is requested to add, enhance and expand resources and programs.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

One enhanced portion of the H.O.P.E. endeavors is to continually focus on education - academically, health initiatives and all aspects. To increase knowledge is to increase sustainability - personally and collectively. Many organizations can offer programs but H.O.P.E. stresses the importance (and fun) of learning and using the knowledge and the sharing the experience. Youth need purpose and H.O.P.E. programs guides that purpose.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Children and youth need to continue to dream and realize with education and work those dreams can come true. Passion for what we do and creating an environment of success, can make the difference in a young life. These components seem so simple, but for a life filled with barriers such as lack of family involvement, poverty, reduced educational opportunities, poor health, drugs, and many other circumstances this simplicity can become insurmountable. With additional resources such as extra funding, further partnerships and more community buy-in these youth can be greater served

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Word of mouth

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)

Leisa Jenkins - Tennessee State Government


Join the conversation:

Photo of Nicole Forsyth

Thanks for tackling the problem of obesity and health disparity! Although physical health is so important and clearly connected to wellbeing, I'm not sure how this ties into the greater goals of the broader, more holistic view of children's wellbeing? I would love to know what model of change you are using in your education program--what makes it unique? How are you empowering youth to take charge of their own health, become their own agents, improve sense of belonging, resilience, etc.?

View all comments