THE BLOG
04/25/2016 09:53 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Dr. Oz's Healthcorps: 10 Years of Health, Wellness & Mental Resilience

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I became a Martial Arts World Champion at the age of 22, representing the United States. So I know first-hand how powerful and life changing it can be to have the proper tools and guidance needed to do well in life from a young age. It's my mission to empower people, children in particular, to achieve their dreams. In my Kung Fu school in Edgewater, I continue to carry out this mission through martial arts training. At the school, we don't just focus on the physical aspects, but also on the attitude, integrity and mindset needed for excellence. That's why the work that Healthcorps is doing matters so much to me. Healthcorps is helping children from some of the most impoverished areas to learn how to be healthy and how to persevere through life. This year, Healthcorps will present two awards to two individuals who embody this idea.

Robert Gasparello, Principal of Sharpstown High School, in Houston, Texas will be presented with the Yvette and Joel Mallah Crystal Heart Apple award. Mr. Gasparello has worked primarily in schools where the poverty rates are high. Six years ago, he retired from North Carolina and moved to Houston to help turn around a school that was in crisis. Sharpstown High School serves about 1500 students, about 60% are Hispanic, and 35 to 38% are African American. The school has experienced significant success in helping the students improve their academic performance and overall outlook on life.

Healthcorps has been a huge contributor to that success, as it shares a similar philosophy on helping children. To help children do well, you have to address all of the children's needs, not just provide the right academic opportunities. The coordinators from Healthcorps have really embraced this mission, and have profoundly impacted the culture at Sharpstown HS. Their dedication has been commendable, and has resulted in several of them being hired onto the staff at the High School after their two year rotations have been completed. Mr. Gasparello says he appreciates Dr. Oz's vision and the people he has put into place to make it all happen. Healthcorps is helping these children be prepared to be successful, not just in school but in life as well.

Another award recipient is Dr. Freda Deskin, CEO and founder of Advanced Science and Technology Charter Schools (ASTEC) in Oklahoma City. She's also being awarded the Yvette and Joel Mallah Crystal Heart Apple Award. Dr. Deskin has been in education for 46 years. In 2000, she founded ASTEC Charter Schools for the most needy in the inner city. ASTEC Charter school has a poverty rate of 94%, and a diversity rate of 90%. Many of the children are from homes with only one parent or guardian who works multiple jobs. Some children's parents are incarcerated. Just about every year, there is one or more family that experiences the murder of a parent or family member.

Before the Healthcorps program, most of the children would barely move from the sofa. Now these children are participating in half marathons and 5K's. They are learning how to cook healthy, nutritious meals. They are in better shape physically and are eating better, selecting fruits and vegetables more often than children at other schools. The children are excited and making positive changes and they are taking this knowledge and excitement home, influencing their families, friends and communities. The Healthcorps program is having a profound impact on the lives of the students, and on the faculty and administrators as well. One administrator has lost over 110 pounds. The entire culture of the school has been changed. The children have been taught that everybody has challenges, now they have a team of people who are on their side to help them. They learn the importance of mental resiliency, positive thinking and that their actions have consequences.

Today more than ever, children are facing stresses and challenges that often lead to suicidal ideation, cutting and other self-injurious acts. With the support and resources provided by Dr. Oz and Lisa through Healthcorps, the children at ASTEC know they have better options. They are better equipped to face life's challenges and make better decisions. About Dr. Oz, Dr. Deskin says he's the real deal, through Healthcorps, he has demonstrated that he really does want to help teens to make positive changes in their lives.