Haile Thomas, A Jamaican American is one of 5 CNN Heroes Young Wonders for 2017

Haile Thomas

CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute is a television special created by CNN to honor individuals who make extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid and make a difference in their communities. The program was started in 2007. This year’s event was held on Sunday, December 17, 2017

Now in its 11th year, the Peabody Award and Emmy-winning “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” has profiled more than 300 heroes and has received upward of 85,000 nominations from more than 100 countries.

Nominees for the 2017 show were introduced during the fall of 2016 and the audience is encouraged to vote online for the CNN Hero of the Year. Ten recipients were honored and the winner (Amy Wright) will receive $100,000 to grow her cause. All of the top 10 CNN Heroes for 2017 will receive a $10,000 cash award. Donations made to each of their designated nonprofit organizations are also being matched up to $50,000.

Also honored at Sunday’s event were the 2017 CNN Heroes Young Wonders—kids and teens who got an early start with their passion for giving. This group is determined to promote literacy, environmentalism, coding skills, nutrition, and compassion.

Haile Thomas

Haile Thomas is 16 years old and lives in New Windsor, New York with her parents who were both born in Jamaica. Haile is a teen health activist. Her “HAPPY Organization” is leading the next generation toward a healthier future by bringing cooking lessons and nutrition education to children in underserved areas.

Haile was motivated to learn all she could about food and nutrition when her father was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes when she was 8 years old. With his family’s help, a regimen of nutrition and exercise reversed her dad’s diabetes. Meanwhile, Haile learned a lot about health and the childhood obesity epidemic.

She was inspired to create The HAPPY Organization, which stands for healthy, active, positive, purposeful youth. Haile’s group offers cooking lessons and nutrition education through camps and classes, geared toward children ages 6 through 13 in underserved areas.

Now 16, Haile is considered to be the youngest certified integrative nutrition health coach in the country. In a recent interview, Haile commented that “Nutrition is super important for our growth and development for our brains and our bodies.”

The HAPPY Organization, states that “In the US, 23 million-plus children and teens face increased risk of premature onset of illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, type-2 diabetes, highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints, and some cancers. The effects also go beyond health risks, leading to social discrimination, low self-esteem, and a wide range of barriers, including physical & psychological consequences, which also impact education attainment. These consequences then trickle through into adulthood and pose economic consequences for youth, their families, and our society.”

And this is the mission:

We address these challenges, generally by working in underserved/at-risk communities where kids and their families have little to no access to opportunities to engage in life-changing health and prevention education programs. We offer fun and engaging programs and activities delivered in elementary and middle schools, summer camps, and at community events across the United States and internationally. Our programs help to minimize risks for preventable health issues, and empower youth and families to make healthy choices, and fully understand why they should. Learn more about HAPPY Organization here

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