The Youth Safe Farm program is an intensive community-based effort to educate and
empower underserved Appalachian farm families to reduce farm injuries to youth. Appalachian
farms are typically small, hilly, economically marginal, and poorly served by educational
institutions. Geographic isolation and low educational attainment contribute to persistent
high rates of injuries to youth.
This innovative program is based on a social ecological model of health promotion.
This model understands behaviors in the context of the interactions among the individual,
the physical environment, and the social environment. The program is strongly rooted
in research-based youth development principles.
Youth Safe Farm will recruit at least 13 families in each of 5 underserved West Virginia
farm communities to learn and work together to identify and control hazards for
youths on their farms. At regularly scheduled community meetings, youths and adults
will learn and be empowered to employ graphic risk mapping to identify hazards
to youths and propose controls and practices that will abate these hazards. Subsequent
meetings will be organized to report on hazard identification and control, to exchange
successes and problems, and to provide motivation to continue to monitor and improve
safety conditions. Farms that complete the work of seven meetings in two years
will receive a plaque suitable for outdoor mounting that designates the farm as
West Virginia University Youth Safe Farm. Families will conduct audits of farm
conditions to monitor their progress toward their planned hazard control goals.