|This article relies on references to primary sources. (October 2009)|
|Founder(s)||Mehmet Oz, Founder|
|Key people||Michelle Bouchard, President
Juan Brea, Chief Operating Officer
Shawn Hayes, Chief Academic Officer
Karen Johnson, Chief Communications Officer
|Focus(es)||Combat Teen Obesity|
|Motto||Shaping a New Generation|
HealthCorps is an American non-profit organization that responds to the obesity crisis through school-based health education and peer-mentoring in addition to community outreach to underserved populations – mostly Hispanic and African-American.
What it does
HealthCorps is a national service program with tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The program claims to impact from 400 to 600 high school students per school per year.
The HealthCorps in-school program shows teens practical life skills through interactive seminars focused on the value and power of students' bodies and minds. HealthCorps expects teens to become educated consumers and health activists, and teens are encouraged to develop positive behavioral shifts that enhance self-esteem.
HealthCorps is based on a peer-mentor model. Each HealthCorps "Coordinator" is assigned one school in which he or she leads seminars five days a week on fitness, nutrition and mental resilience. The seminars are taught through health or other academic classes or through after school clubs, as designated by the school principal. Seminar content is included in a 250-page curriculum and program guide developed by the HealthCorps Advisory Board.
HealthCorps believes that through service learning, the students share some of the messaging with their friends and parents—thus increasing the reach of HealthCorps' message.
Outside of schools, HealthCorps engages in several community events such as health fairs. Their largest health fairs are branded "Highway to Health" festivals.
In June 2009, Dr. Mehmet Oz presented results of a two-year efficacy study overseen by a methodologist from Cornell University and funded by Affinity Health Plan. The study has not been published. All information on the study thus far released has come from Oz. Results of the study found benefits of HealthCorps on three dimensions. Soft drink consumption decreases by 0.61 times per week. Participants are 36% more likely to report they are more physically active. Participants score 10.7% higher on the test of health knowledge. These estimates assume zero benefit for dropouts; excluding dropouts results in larger effect size.
The blueprint for HealthCorps was executed for a 10-month pilot program in 2003. Heart surgeon Oz set out to follow guidelines of "Healthy People 2010" a federal government initiative from the Department of Health and Human Services to advance a nationwide health promotion and disease prevention agenda.
In 2004, HealthCorps launched its program at George Washington Educational Campus in Washington Heights, Manhattan with lunchtime workshops. A second school was added to the pilot in 2005– Cathedral High School in Midtown Manhattan. In 2006, HealthCorps network grew to nine schools, including Academy of the New Church in Pennsylvania and Cliffside Park High School and North Bergen High School in New Jersey.
HealthCorps embarked on a national rollout, extending its health educational and mentoring program to 36 total schools, including 29 New York City high schools and the first Florida school, Palm Beach Gardens Community High School in 2007. It added a second school in Pennsylvania, Lower Moreland High School. To meet the demands of a thriving program, HealthCorps staff redesigned the curriculum and integrated the program into regular classrooms and communities in all five New York City boroughs. The program also added in-school activism projects such as Healthy Halloween, Healthy Bodegas, and Healthy Steps pedometer contests and community activism programs such as the Highway to Health festivals.
By 2008, HealthCorps had grown to 45 schools and three additional states - California, Texas, and Ohio. In Florida, the second largest state for the Program, eight schools, including institutions in Miami, Tampa, and West Palm Beach were added. HealthCorps expanded to Arizona and Mississippi in 2009. Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Oregon gained HealthCorps in schools in 2010.
As of December 2010 HealthCorps was active in the following areas:
- Coral Gables Gazette http://www.cggazette.com/index.cfm?dsp=news.view&nid=204
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/partners/Archive/HealthCorps/index.html
- U.S. Senate Testimony of HealthCorps President http://help.senate.gov/Hearings/2009_03_10_b/Bouchard.pdf
- Good Morning America http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/story?id=4711843
- U.S. Senate Testimony of Mehmet Oz Appendix C http://help.senate.gov/Hearings/2009_02_26/Oz.pdf
- WABC-TV http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=resources/lifestyle_community/community&id=6794649
- Service Wire http://servicewire.org/content/20090723/wire/blog/HealthCorps-Proven-Effective-Preventing-Obesity-Children
- Atlanta Metro News http://www.ajc.com/news/content/health/stories/2008/08/04/Family_Fitness.html
- The Saturday Evening Post, November/December 2007