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Wellness Champs Improve School Communities



Wellness Champions

OUSD Wellness Champions are a wonderful group of teachers, staff and parents that are dedicated to supporting wellness at school sites across the District. They are recruited, trained, and supported by the OUSD Wellness Unit, in partnership with committed administration at school sites. Our champions work on a variety of focus areas including: gardening and harvest, safe routes to school, staff wellness, physical activity and green gloves (waste reduction and sustainability). 




 Meet our Wellness Champions of the Month for 2016-17!


September: Margaret "Shantee" Baker

Shantee grew up dancing, swimming, diving, and making exercise a part of her everyday life. In 2011, she began teaching at Montera Middle School, and joining the Wellness Champion program in 2012. Among many other successes, Shantee started a student group - !?WHAT?! (Wellness Health Action Team) - where the middle school students work together to encourage health and wellness at Montera. She believes that “healthy people are happier people, and happier people make a happier world.”



October: Veronica Carillo

Veronica has been working with OUSD since 2000 and currently works at Community United Elementary School as the Community Relations Assistant. She has been a Wellness Champion for 2 years, focusing on Safe Routes to School. This past year she led their first Bike to School Day Energizer Station which she hopes to repeat next year, as  “...more and more communities are riding their bikes to school and work.”



November: FoodCorps Volunteers - Cesar Cortes, Kimberly Miramontes and Lydia Yamaguchi

At OUSD, we are lucky enough to have three FoodCorps volunteers who work with our school sites on school food improvements, nutrition and garden education.


Cesar knows that “food is medicine” and loves showing people that healthy food not only tastes good, but is good for our bodies as well. He wants his work to help "beat the statistics" of high rates of diabetes in the Latino community. Cesar helps plan, coordinate and cook student taste tests, assists with produce markets, and is creating recipes for the Central Kitchen.  


Kimberly knows that education is key for preventing chronic illnesses such and diabetes and heart disease, noting that people “can’t do good in the world if [they] are sick and tired all the time.” She teaches gardening and provides nutrition lessons at East Oakland Pride and Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, in addition to supporting other sites with classroom lessons. Seeing the kids excited about being part of the process and wanting to eat the radishes they planted is the best part!


Lydia teaches harvest lessons at La Escuelita and MetWest, helps teachers integrate the garden into their science lessons and works with high school interns. “Everyone deserves the opportunity to be well and to be able to make [healthy] choices about food,” she says. Once, she led a lesson called “Eat the Rainbow" and students continued to come up to her for months afterward to show off their produce: “Look at my green grapes!” or “Look at my orange tangerine!”.


December: Bernadette Zermeno

Bernadette has been working for OUSD for 8 years and has been with the Wellness Champion program for 2 years, bringing Safe Routes to School and Harvest to Bridges Academy. She has held a successful Walk and Roll to School day, had bike racks installed, and continues to meet with parents to discuss the community’s needs around wellness. Now, many students are talking to their parents and to each other about healthy food. “The kids are empowering themselves to make healthy decisions,” she says.



February: Alejandra Mendez

Alejandra is the Parent Wellness Leader at Global Family Elementary where her two kids attend school. She has started to plan a collaborative event with her school's Literacy Night and is working hard so that she can include a Zumba workshop, healthy food, healthy and wellness information and the bike blender! She hopes that these events will help educate children and also provide parents with information so they can support their kids in being healthy and active.



March: Christine Atkins

Christine has worked with OUSD for 2 years, choosing to add wellness to the curriculum she teaches her students because “it’s important to educate the whole person.” As a Wellness Champion at Franklin Elementary, she focuses on staff wellness. This year, Christine has brought Yoga Nidra and a Holistic Nutritional Coach to Franklin, along with initiating “Wellness Walks” with her colleagues. “Better teachers and people make the world better,” she says.



April: Adam Corona

Coach Adam has taught at Allendale Elementary for 7 years and joined the Wellness Champion program this year as a Healthy Recess Coach. He’s had success in creating a respectful and “more active and engaged” recess so that students can make the most of their time outside of class. The kids are doing great and are using “high fives and other things to show good sportsmanship in between games and activities,” he says.



May: Timothy Douglas

Timothy has been teaching Kindergarten at International Community School for 6 years and took on the Safe Routes to School Wellness Champion role 4 years ago. He loves biking and all the benefits that come with it - exercise, reducing pollution, being part of the community, beating traffic and having fun. His biggest success is “just to see the kids and hear their vocabularies surrounding exercise and health." He has really enjoyed “watching the students become their own Wellness Champions for the district, class, families and themselves.”