A group of Norfolk Academy students and alumni are taking an active role in a growing effort to make Hampton Roads healthier.
The project is Healthier 757, a platform started recently by EdLogics, a Virginia Beach-based digital health communication company. Free for Hampton Roads residents, Healthier 757 offers the chance to go online to learn from pharmacists, answer daily questions, complete workouts, and more. By including videos, games, and competitions against friends, it aims to provide a fun way to improve overall health.
Last winter, Tom Chamberlain, founder and CEO of EdLogics, spoke to Academy's Global Health Fellows. Students in our Batten Leadership Program, the Fellows study health topics through case studies, independent research, peer collaboration, internships, and other real-world experiences.
Chamberlain's presentation piqued the interest of Michela Jones '21. An all-conference basketball standout, she understands the importance of good health, so an effort to spread that message intrigued her. During the spring, while Academy was in Distance Learning, she helped register the entire Batten Program - almost 90 students - onto Healthier 757.
Michela's efforts continued during the summer, as she and other student ambassadors registered more people. The students reached out to food banks, fitness centers, and other businesses.
“It's a good feeling to know I'm able to help people with their life habits," Michela said.
The project also piqued the interest of Kara Kaufman '19 and Leif Smith '19. A Global Health Fellow at Academy, Kara is entering her sophomore year at the University of Virginia. She's planning on medical school after college.
Becoming a student ambassador seemed an ideal way to learn while also helping the community. Throughout the summer, Kara recruited registrations by developing Healthier 757's Facebook and Instagram pages, which provide an abundance of health information.
“Giving people knowledge is something we can do for free that can be life changing," Kara said.
Leif agrees. A lacrosse player, he is entering his freshman year at Washington and Lee University after a year at The Hill Academy, which specializes in athletic and academic programming for dedicated student-athletes.
As a student ambassador this summer, he made inroads with fitness-based centers and businesses, like Inlet Fitness and Virginia Beach's recreation centers and lifeguards.
“The more you know, the better off you'll be," Leif said.
The student ambassadors have learned about much more than just health. They strengthened communication skills by making their pitches to different groups. And they gained a better understanding of how businesses operate and gain success.
Sean Wetmore, Director of the Batten Leadership Program, and Price Hall, Director of the Global Health Fellows and Co-Director of the Batten Leadership Program, are both on the Healthier 757 steering committee. Mr. Wetmore said he was impressed with the level of engagement from the student ambassadors, as well as the creative ways they found to register people and expand the project.
“Each ambassador had unique ideas," Mr. Wetmore said.
The students' participation is not done. Kara plans to continue to post to the social media sites. Michela would like to register students in every grade level at Academy, starting in the fall with the Upper School.
She realizes that she's improving the health not just of individuals, but our region as a whole.
“Impacting one person can change a lot," she said.
To learn more about the Batten Leadership Program, please visit its web page.