Thanks to a generous grant from the Cleveland Clinic, Ginn Academy students are in their second year of an advanced health education curriculum. We are currently the only school in Ohio to be part of the HealthCorps program established by Dr. Mehmet Oz and his wife, Lisa.
HealthCorps, started in 2003, is currently in 66 high schools in 14 states, and continues to grow. Its mission is to educate students in under-served areas about the importance of mental, physical, and nutritional health. Lessons are taught by a HealthCorps Coordinator, typically a recent college graduate who serves a two-year stint as an educator, peer role model, and advocate for their assigned school.
Our coordinator, Jasmyne Jackson, is a graduate of the University of Michigan. She plans to begin medical school in the fall of 2014 to become a pediatric oncologist. Following is an interview with Ms. Jackson about the program, how it is benefiting our students, and why she's chosen to be here with us in Cleveland for two years.
Jasmyne Jackson, GA's HealthCorps Coordinator
Hometown: Southfield, Michigan
Why did you sign up with HealthCorps? From implementing HIV education in South Africa to raising over $1,000 for breast cancer research with my sorority, health has always been my heart. HealthCorps' service-oriented mission to improving the holistic health of teens directly aligns with my desire to continue the service and mentoring that brought me joy and fulfillment in college.
I hope to inspire students have a standard of excellence in all aspects of their lives. I want them to understand that health is not just eating fruits and vegetables, but making informed decisions about what you are putting into your body, how you are exercising, and how you are letting your environment influence your behaviors and mindset.
How do you like Cleveland and Ginn Academy so far? My mom's side of the family is from Ohio and I have family from Cleveland, so I spent a lot of time in Ohio growing up. The Ginn Academy has a profound mission, exuberance and great sense of community. The University of Michigan/ Ohio State University rivalry is always a topic of discussion with my students and family so I just have to add GO BLUE :)
What are some of the HealthCorps programs that you've introduced at Ginn? During my first year of HealthCorps, I focused on implementing some of our national projects. I held several Cafe O Yea events in the cafeteria. In one of them, we learned the three components that should make up every breakfast, which gave some students the opportunity to taste raspberries for the first time! I was pleased to find out that several students made their own green smoothies after one Cafe O Yea.
In December, we had the Hunt For Health health fair. Outside organizations that participated were Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Health, The Cleveland Clinic Pediatric Residency Program, Whole Foods, the Marines, and the Cleveland Clinic Center For Sports Health. The seniors organized and ran the event. Our soon-to-be-college-bound seniors also have had lessons focusing on professionalism, decision making, leadership, and finding one's purpose this year.
The Staff Wellness Competition is well underway. Several staff members have stated that the competition has them making healthier food choices and their activity levels have increased! To help out in our community, we took a group of students to sort donations at the Cleveland Foodbank for the MLK day of service.
Teen Battle Chef is a program that focuses on students developing culinary skills and nutritional knowledge as well as public speaking and presentation experience. Last week the teams made Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls and Spinach Quesadillas.
Some other programs that we're working on this year are Will To Chill- learning that anger is a secondary emotion and more productive ways to respond to frustrating circumstances. Think Before You Drink- becoming more conscious about the amount of sugar in drinks. Four Factors of Fitness- the importance of integrating flexibility, stamina, strength, and cardio in a workout plan and finding creative ways to stay fit. Big Deal About Breakfast- learning why breakfast is important. Macronutrients- learning about healthy sources of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. The students really enjoyed the competitive breakfast knowledge and macronutrients relay races.
What are the most popular subjects with the students? I have many conversations about sports nutrition and exercises to become a more dynamic athlete. Just about every week I have discussions about the difference between college and high school, professionalism, study skills, time management, healthy decision making, goal setting, future plans, traveling, and since it is almost March Madness we talk about Big Ten Basketball (Go Blue!).
We are very fortunate to have this wonderful program and Ms. Jackson in our school and we are grateful to everyone who continues to make it possible.
Kind regards from everyone at Ginn Academy!