MARIA GARCIA and KARLA RAMIREZ/Coachella Uninc
COACHELLA – Olive Crest Academy (OCA), a public charter high school, is making great strides toward a healthier student body through recent grants from The California Endowment (TCE) and Regional Access Project Foundation (RAPF).
TCE’s investment has made it possible for the school to participate in the Health Corps program founded by Dr. Mehmet Oz. The mission of the program is to implement innovative in-school activities that inspire teens to make healthier choices for themselves and their families.
OCA’s health coordinator position is funded by TCE to support the Building Healthy Communities initiative in the Eastern Coachella Valley. Coachella Valley High School and Desert Mirage High School also have TCE-funded Health Corps coordinators.
“I go into classrooms and I teach the students about nutrition, physical fitness and mental resilience,” says Anayeli Zavala, Health Corps coordinator. “Two things that I’m trying to implement right away are the wellness council and my cooking club.”
In an effort to fight childhood obesity, a new water station was unveiled earlier this week to encourage students to drink water instead of sugary beverages. Students learned that the average American consumes an average of 100 pounds of sugar annually. Choosing water is an easy way to reduce sugar intake.
Students can easily fill their environmentally friendly water bottles with filtered water from the water station and drink throughout the day. The water station is part of the Re-Think Your Drink campaign, made possible through a grant from TCE, RAPF and Riverside County Department of Health.
Zavala, who is assigned to OCA for two years, is hoping to make a lasting impact with activities including an after-school Teen Chef competition and an annual health fair.
“I expect that it would probably take some time for them [the students and staff] to warm up to Health Corps and get to know the crazy lady that walks around with all the posters to different classes and talking about health,” said Zavala, “but I hope that, in the end, people can get comfortable with Health Corps and view me as an ally and as a resource that can be used throughout the school.”
For more information, please visit the Health Corps website.