Even though Sacramento is central to a region known internationally as a prosperous agricultural hub, many teenagers do not know if its significance nor the area’s impact on their lives. That is why HealthCorps, a national program founded by award winning heart surgeon and talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz, has made it its mission to educate teens in the Sacramento region and throughout the country about nutrition and physical fitness. With a combination of school nutrition and after school programs, teachers at almost any school throughout the US can help foster a HealthCorps program to teach their students about the importance of living an active, healthy lifestyle.
“HealthCorps goal both in Sacramento and in all of our communities across the U.S. is to educate high school students on nutrition, physical fitness and mental resilience to empower them to become advocates for health in their own communities.” says Kaitlin MacGregor, the West Coast Communications Manager for HealthCorps. In the city of Sacramento alone, there are six fully operational programs to engage students. Some of these are at Hiram Johnson High School, Burbank High School, and Sacramento Charter High School. In total, there are 52 programs all over the United States. However, California is home to half of these.
“Sacramento is a center of agriculture in California, and yet some of our teens know next to nothing about the wholesome foods grown locally,” says MacGregor. “Many students grab sugary drinks and junk food on their way to school for breakfast and fast food for dinner, but we have found that with HealthCorps nutrition education and activities students are introduced to new foods and make healthier choices in their daily eating habits. HealthCorps also encourages students to learn more about physical fitness and find a type of fitness that they enjoy to keep themselves fit.”
Besides education, HealthCorps also works to advocate legislation that would implement nutrition and fitness courses in schools across America. For example, the Fitness Integrated with Teaching Kids Act (FIT Kids Act), which is designed to prioritize health education in school systems. Along with all of their efforts, HealthCorps and their inter-school programs have had a strong impact on the lives of the students involved. A study conducted at four participating schools concluded that 55% more students exercised 4 times a week or more, and 40% less students drank soda twice per day. With each of these victories, they are helping pave the way for children across the United States to live a more active lifestyle.
To get involved with HealthCorps, or to start a program at your local school, visit http://healthcorps.org/get-involved/ for more information.