HealthCorps® Expands to 12 States to Address Growing Childhood Obesity Crisis

Posted 09/14/2010 | By HealthCorps

Program founded by Dr. Mehmet Oz reaches teens with experiential, peer-driven learning

NEW YORK, Sept. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — HealthCorps® (www.healthcorps.org), a proactive health movement with a unique in-school educational and mentoring program, will extend its program to high schools in 12 states beginning this month.  This growth includesPortland, OR; Washington, DC; Laurel and Wilmington, DE; Sacramento, CA and Tucson, AZ. HealthCorps’ network now spans forty-two high schools across the country.

“HealthCorps is committed to reaching high school students to empower a new generation of agents of change for personal wellness,” said Dr. Mehmet Oz, HealthCorps Founder, heart surgeon and nationally syndicated talk show host. “At HealthCorps our school Coordinators are on the frontlines making health hip for teens by getting them to read food labels, increase physical activity, and serve their communities.”

HealthCorps plays a key role in local and national efforts to eradicate childhood obesity in the United States and ensure that children and teens embrace healthier lifestyle habits that will endure for life.  In 2009 the program launched in Clarksdale and Shelby, Mississippi, a state with the highest adult obesity rate in the country at 33.8%, as concluded in an annual report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

According to Gared Watkins, Principal of Shelby High School in the Mississippi Delta, “Child obesity is a serious issue. The information that Healthcorps teaches is essential to changing the way students perceive health. HealthCorps’ Coordinator has made a remarkable impact on our entire school community.  My generation was forced to be physically active – like walking a mile and a half to school. The current generation would benefit by just getting up and moving for fun.”

The designation of September as Child Obesity Awareness Month was introduced in the House by Representatives Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH) and Kay Granger (R-TX), and passed in May. The Senate version was introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and George Voinovich(R-OH) and passed the Senate in April. President Barack Obama has called on all Americans to take action for healthier living during the month.

To highlight the month-long initiative, Health Coordinators, who carry out HealthCorps’ nutrition, fitness and mental strength curriculum through a two-year public service assignment, will lead students in special activities to positively and proactively address healthy choices that balance their lives.

During Child Obesity Awareness Month and throughout the year, local, state and federal officials will be invited to observe the HealthCorps program in action, which includes upbeat cafeteria lectures on fitness and nutrition, after school clubs featuring Zumba and yoga workouts and cook-offs organized through the Farm2Table Teen Battle Chef cooking class program.

“HealthCorps is proud to support Child Obesity Awareness Month and the leadership of Representatives Fudge and Granger and Senators Gillibrand and Voinovich to save a generation,” stated HealthCorps President Michelle Bouchard.  “Our proven program is empowering youth to take charge of their health, bring physical activity into their daily lives and embrace purpose as health activists.  Students build greenhouses, plant gardens and make over convenience stores to ensure that healthy choices are available.”

According to Dr. Oz, the four most important steps that kids can take to prevent or remedy obesity are to be physically active every day, limit sugar intake, make play a priority – it’s good for building mental strength too and do service – it’s a positive health move.

For more information, please visit www.healthcorps.org.

About HealthCorps

HealthCorps’ core mission is to empower teens and communities to become health agents of change and help the country reach the tipping point towards wellness now and for the future. As part of the organization’s mandate, the school program extends to the community through health festivals and liaisons with local health resources and non-profits who share HealthCorps’ goals.  HealthCorps is focused on three priorities – educating the student body; achieving community outreach through “Fit Town™” – an initiative to connect and activate citizens and organizations to bring about awareness and affect change through local projects and initiatives; and advocating for policy shifts across all levels of government that put health and physical education back into the core curriculum of the American education system.  This mission of HealthCorps is also shared by First Lady Michelle Obama who launched the Let’s Move initiative last year to get youth moving and eating more nutritious foods.

The HealthCorps Board of Directors includes such medical practitioners as Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. David Katz (Yale), Dr. Michael Roizen (Cleveland Clinic), Dr. Brian Wansink (Cornell), Dr.John Ratey (Harvard), Dr. Laura Berman and many other renowned health experts.

For more information on the Child Obesity Awareness Month, please visitwww.HealthierKidsBrighterFutures.org.

Karen Johnson, HealthCorps® Director of Communications
Phone: (212) 742-2875
Email: karen.johnson@healthcorps.org

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