New program at high school promotes healthy mind, healthy life
How Project Teen Health encourages a better lifestyle
–By Sadie Mae Mace, Crimson Newsmagazine
–Project Teen Health, a nonprofit program through the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo, is new to Paso Robles High School this school year after being introduced to three other high school campuses, such as Arroyo Grande, Nipomo, and Santa Maria. The program, which has been around for ten years in the community, primarily focuses on preventing youth obesity, but also trains students for specific athletic events, offers tips on diet and exercise, and provides nutrition counseling. In addition, free or low cost after school workouts will be offered, where students can choose from a four day, four week boot camp or three day, three week boot camp.
“[The program is] one of the most impactful things we can do. I really believe we can improve the health of our communities if we can improve the health of the students. The reason being is if we can go home at the end of each day and share with our parents… that we want to improve with our own health, we can become a catalyst in our family and that family can be a catalyst in the community,” said Kaelon Russell, who, along with Jenna Miller, is one of the coaches helping the PRHS chapter. Coach Russell is an AmeriCorps member, and was assigned to Project Teen Health for his year of service. His primary goals include volunteer recruitment, fundraising, and coaching the after school workouts.
The club also offers specific programs to help students interested in the field of fitness succeed; the Fitness Youth Training Revolution is a seminar where students learn the basics of becoming a personal trainer.
“I joined Project Teen Health because I was in search of a healthier lifestyle and I thought a bit of guidance might be good… I’m looking forward to the fact that as a group of people, we’re all searching for the same thing. We’re all searching to be healthy, and that is awesome to me because we can all help each other in our goals,” said PRHS sophomore Emalee Gott, who is set to graduate next year.
Clubs already active in schools show significant progress in the program’s long term goal of “creating student led health and wellness initiatives on campus”, according to Russell. In Santa Maria, students received a grant to implement a school wide wellness policy. Similar to PRHS, AGHS constructed water bottle fill stations with a grant of 2000 dollars. A common goal shared among schools is improving school lunch food.
On Jan. 28, Project Teen Health held its first annual PTH Summit in San Luis Obispo, where student leaders from the school clubs collaborated to share ideas for the “Start a Movement” effort at their respective campuses. Ideas discussed including recruitment strategies, member commitment, different marketing techniques, and more. After the summit, the students participated in a group workout at REVSLO Fitness.
“[We will] help you create a strategy to achieve that goal, help you get funding and write grants, and get in touch with the right people within the high school and district to make that happen,” said Coach Russell, who added that Project Teen Health, as a whole, wants to hear directly from students what actions they want to take to improve student health.
Meetings are held Tuesdays at lunch in room 808, where the coaches and advisor Physical Education teacher Cara Macomber support students looking to improve their personal and school health. Student interest forms are available in room 808 for students looking for individual help, where they can inform the advisors what days and class periods work for them to start the program.
“I’m just really excited to be bringing this program to Paso Robles, I’m very excited the students we’ve worked with so far seem to be having a good time with it, and I’m definitely looking forward to creating a lasting program at this high school and improving the health of everyone in the community,” Coach Russell said.