by Johnny Ha
On January 5th, Galileo’s Health Academy instructor, Mr. Richard McDowell was surprised by the American Heart Association (AHA) at a evening dinner event when they awarded him with a visionary award for his dedication and contribution to their Kids Cook With Heart, Teens Cook With Heart Program, and his effort in bringing his students to Sacramento every year to support health oriented legislation on California Lobby Day.
Mr. McDowell was one of four recipients who received an award at the event that night. “I was told to save the date for the event and I didn’t know what for; I didn’t know I won an award until the day before, so it was quite surprising news to me because I wasn’t expecting this to happen,” said Mr. McDowell.
Mr. McDowell helped pioneer the Kids Cook With Heart and Teens Cook With Heart program in 2011 that started in Galileo’s Health Academy. The program has currently expanded to 4 different states with over 120 schools, including California, Nevada, Washington, Arizona, and Hawaii. There are plans to bring the program to every SFUSD student in the near future. Mr. McDowell said, “The program is designed to highlight how easy it is to cook heart healthy meals and eat healthy, so that students won’t gain the “Freshman 15” when they enter college.”
The AHA has been the most recent addition to the Health Academy and Mr. McDowell thinks it’s a great fit because it is very beneficial to his students. The AHA’s goals are to educate the different communities, advocate for legislative health laws that benefit people, and fund research. “Our Health Academy will always have the AHA’s cooking program and hopefully it’ll start addressing our country’s obesity and diabetes epidemics among young people. The AHA and its program is great because it teaches students the necessary life health skills and various career options to help them become academically strong and literate,” Mr. McDowell said.
“The American Heart Association is one of our most educational and giving community partners who not only provides support for our students to become successful academically, but also healthy in mind and in body. I’m very fortunate to have such a great community partner to collaborate with. They helped my students become better citizens, educated them about health issues, and showed them the life skills necessary to help them live healthier and safer. I share this Visionary Award with all of my wonderful Health Academy students because my students helped make this program expand to different states for many other students,” said Mr. McDowell.
The AHA is a voluntary health organization whose purpose is to help prevent America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Aside from being a voluntary health organization. The AHA also advocates for good health with goals of promoting healthy/nutritious eating habits and lifestyles, funding the newest researches in cardiovascular disease, and bringing educational health programs/workshops to students.
The AHA’s Kids Cook With Heart and Teens Cook With Heart is their first kids program in the nation to integrate hands-on healthy cooking and nutrition with cardiovascular health education. Their goal is to change America’s obesity and diabetes epidemic, reduce the rate of teens and children becoming obese, and teach the next generation the connection between nutrition and prevention of health to create a healthier future for themselves.