HealthCorps seeks to build communities of wellness through peer-mentoring programs in schools. The programs target high-need populations using a curriculum in nutrition, fitness and mental strength to develop character and inspire an interest in health and culinary arts careers.
HealthCorps launched in 2003 by Dr. Mehmet Oz to help stem the child obesity crisis by addressing students' mind, body, spirit through an innovative health curriculum that gives teens purpose. Through HealthCorps' in-school health mentoring program, HealthCorps reaches students, faculty, parents and school staff, as well as community residents with whom they connect through community outreach and public events.
HealthCorps' curriculum is carried out by "Coordinators" who encourage teens to incorporate daily movement into their lives as well as learn ways to manage stress and embrace positive solutions to dealing with negative emotions.
Coordinators conduct approximately 12 classes each week and lead after school and community programs. They also partner with public health departments, school systems, foundations, the business community and other non-profit organizations to unite their efforts.
HealthCorps receives grant funds from the Office of Nutrition and Fitness to staff coordinators at three schools:
- Cliffside Park High School
- North Bergen High School
- Central High School, Newark, NJ
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HealthCorps is impacting high school students around the country and in New Jersey.
- A study published in the October 2011 issue of Child Obesity found that students who participated in HealthCorps as compared to those who did not:
- Drank less sugary sodas
- Were 36% more likely to be physically active
- Scored nearly 11% higher on a test of health knowledge
- In Central High School (Newark, NJ), a HealthCorps student said:
[Coordinator's] ‘Tips and Tricks' towards making awful yet healthy foods taste good, has surprisingly affected me a lot with getting the urge to eat healthy foods. I now cook more often! I can actually look at peas and asparagus now! And thanks to [Coordinator], when he bought me coffee, for once, thanks to being convinced by him, I didn't put over 5 packs of sugar as the usual in my cappuccino. But instead I only used 2. It's awesome how [Coordinator] always turns something really exciting by making a little twist every here and there!
- In North Bergen High School (North Bergen, NJ), a student started a food journal and reported that "I feel better now that I'm eating healthy. And, I lost 6 pounds."
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