Federal Funds Bring HealthCorps to OKC Alumni School
In 2009, HealthCorps began its advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill to elevate health and physical education within federal education law. The unintended consequences of No Child Left Behind had left schools and school districts with little funding and little time for health and PE.
At the same time, HealthCorps was expanding to schools nationwide, because parents, students and administrators understood the change HealthCorps could bring to a school community.
The long-term goal of HealthCorps’ federal advocacy efforts was to support a funding stream that would enable any school to bring HealthCorps programming to its students.
In 2015, with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), both Health and Physical Education were included in the definition of a students “well-rounded education”, making both subjects allowable uses of federal education funds. Additionally, the law created a new Title – Title IV part A, which provides block grants to states for schools to initiate a variety of programs including health and physical education.
As part of its outreach and sustainability efforts – HealthCorps immediately reached out to its alumni schools, encouraging them to secure the new federal funds and reengage with our program.
Not surprising, it was Dr. Freda Deskin, the founder and CEO of ASTEC Charter Schools in Oklahoma, City that first contacted HealthCorps about using the federal funds for a special program focused on wellness for ASTEC’s faculty and staff.
Part personal enrichment and all professional development – a special HealthCorps University (HCU) was created for ASTEC Charter Schools. On January 25, Dr. Deskin’s vision and HealthCorps’ decade-long goal, became a reality. ASTEC educators and staff were trained in programming that encouraged personal well-being along with learning skills and content that can easily be integrated into the classroom, campus culture and student health.
Vice President of Public Relations for Continental Resources, Kristin Thomas, delivered an inspiring keynote touching on the integral part school staff play in the lives of students with an emphasis on the difference they can make. It was Thomas, now a member of HealthCorps’ board of directors, that initially brought the HealthCorps program to ASTEC Charter Schools in 2012.
Dr. Deskin had this to say of the event: “ASTEC employees were motivated toward better health after having the HCU training. They have become more supportive as to why we don’t allow sugary items brought into the school and workroom.”
HealthCorps President Michelle Bouchard added, ”The ASTEC Charter School HCU is exactly what we hoped our advocacy efforts would yield. To have an alumni school identify federal funds for the continuation of HealthCorps programming is a model we are eager to share with other states and districts – it’s necessary for our sustainability.