Dates of Project: December 2011 to September 2012
Field of Work: Childhood obesity
Problem Synopsis: Low-income students are at greater risk of obesity and related health problems, which affect their school attendance and performance.
“You can teach anything you want about nutrition. To get kids to buy into it, it has to be something they feel good about. It has to be something they want to do.”—Shawn Hayes, PhD, Project Director
Synopsis of the Work: HealthCorps coordinators—recent college graduates who commit to the program for two years—undergo intensive training to become mentors and role models and promote health among at-risk students. HealthCorps placed a coordinator in Sharpstown High School in Houston; John Marshall High School in Cleveland; Hialeah High School in Hialeah, Fla.; and Broad Street High School, in Shelby, Miss.
Key Results: The coordinators organized programs in each school such as Café O’ Yea, a cafeteria-based program that promotes healthy eating and healthy relationships, and after-school clubs such as Teen Battle Chef, which provides cooking and nutrition instruction in a fun, competitive format.
The coordinators organized health-related field trips, school fairs, and community service projects in each school, and involved teachers and other school staff in fitness competitions. The coordinators also enrolled the schools in the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program, which enlists students and staff in creating an environment that encourages healthy eating and physical activity.
HealthCorps addresses obesity by giving young people the information to make good decisions, and by building self-esteem so they feel worthy of making positive choices.