SULPHUR – Ivan Silva joined the ranks of HealthCorps, a national health and wellness nonprofit organization founded by Dr. Mehmet Oz, to gain public health experience before he begins medical school.
Through the organization, Silva works with 3,400 students at Upland (California) High School, instilling the organization’s key foundational principles of nutrition, physical activity and mental resilience through classes, clubs and mentorship.
Silva, a native of Highland, California, was among dozens of HealthCorps coordinators based at schools across the United States, who converged in Chickasaw Country for a weeklong training last month.
The HealthCorps Annual Winter Training, conducted Jan. 28-31 at the Chickasaw Retreat and Conference Center, brought together HealthCorps coordinators, staff and board members for professional development training. A midweek luncheon provided an opportunity for stakeholders to hear firsthand the positive impact of the program.
The Chickasaw Nation and HealthCorps joined forces six years ago to transform health outcomes for students in selected schools in southern Oklahoma. The Chickasaw Nation currently sponsors HealthCorps programs in Kingston, Byng, Latta, Tishomingo and Davis Public Schools.
Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby said the program aligns with the tribe’s mission.
“We are always looking for ways to improve the quality of life of our people, and we want to improve the quality of life of the people who are around us. HealthCorps does just that. We are so thankful we have the opportunity to see firsthand this beneficial program which empowers young people to change their lives for the better,” he said.
Macheala Taylor serves as the HealthCorps coordinator for Kingston schools. A Tishomingo native and Choctaw Nation citizen, Taylor was born in Ada at a Chickasaw Nation medical facility.
“The Chickasaw Nation has been a part of my life since the very beginning,” she said.
Taylor said she appreciates the program’s overarching goal of giving back to the community.
Shelby Gibson is the HealthCorps coordinator for Latta Public Schools. A native of Gilbert, Arizona, Gibson earned a degree in Public Health from Brigham Young University.
Erica Sun serves Tishomingo High School as a HealthCorps coordinator. A Detroit native, she graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s in Dance, Life Science, and Psychology and Eastern Michigan University with a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology.
During the Winter Training, Ms. Sun led a presentation about the Chickasaw Nation’s Family Mealtime Blessings Campaign, an initiative to encourage and promote conversations around the dinner table.
Through the initiative, HealthCorps coordinators work with their schools and communities through cooking programs, video projects and community events. The five participating high schools also conduct pre- and post-intervention surveys to ascertain changes in students’ perception of family meals and barriers to family mealtime.
Mechel Dickerson works with the students of Byng Schools. A native of Ada, she is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science, in Physical Education Health & Safety.
Candace Shy serves as the HealthCorps Coordinator for Davis schools. A Georgia native, she earned a degree in Health and Community Wellness from the University of West Georgia. “HealthCorps has been the biggest blessing of my life,” she said.
Founded in 2003 by Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show” and attending physician at New York Presbyterian-Columbia Medical Center; HealthCorps is a nonprofit organization whose goals include “make students happier and more productive by giving them everyday skills in nutrition, fitness and resilience.”
HealthCorps’ mission is “to unleash the power of America’s youth so they can live productive lives.”
To learn more about HealthCorps programs, please visit www.healthcorps.org.