In 2003, Mehmet Oz, M.D., founded the nonprofit HealthCorps with the goal of training recent college graduates to teach children and teens in the U.S. about developing habits that are crucial for their long-term health, both physically and mentally. So far, the program is in nine states across the country, including California, New York, Texas and Florida. In 2017, over 420,000 students in the U.S. were impacted by the program.
Most HealthCorps volunteers are recent college graduates who were either studying pre-med or public policy. In fact, a study about the program’s alumni found that 25 percent continued on into a career in medicine or nursing, 23 percent went on to careers in public health or health care, and 14 percent went on to careers in education.
“HealthCorps is based on the principle of the Peace Corps,” Oz says. “You take energetic college grads, you put them in high schools around the country, and you get them to teach kids about not just what to eat and how to exercise, but [also] how to have confidence that they can have mental resilience in the world—that they can manage complexity.”
It’s crucial, Oz says, to teach children not only about healthy eating and exercise, but also the coping mechanisms they can use for the struggles they may face in their lives. “If they can change the world inside their bodies, they can change the world outside,” he says.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of SUCCESS magazine.