Over the past 11 years, CNN Heroes has recognized regular people who have dedicated their lives to making a difference in the world. This year, five extraordinary young people making a difference in their communities were honored during “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” aired Sunday, December 17, 2017.
Among the five was Haile Thomas, a 16 year old Jamaican American from New Windsor, Orange County, Upstate New York.
Thomas is an international speaker, health activist, vegan food and lifestyle influencer, podcaster, the youngest Certified Integrative Health Coach in the United States, and the founder/chief executive officer of her Non-Profit The HAPPY Organization.
How It All Began
Haile was only 8 years old when her father was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, a disease that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal, also called hyperglycemia. According to the American Diabetes Association, Type 2 diabetes is caused by the body not using insulin properly.
At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels. -ADA
Taking matters into her own hands and with her family’s help, and a regimen of nutrition and exercise, the family was able to reverse her dad’s diabetes.
I was eight years old when my dad was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He could easily become blind, lose a limb or even die. We were definitely scared but I think being so scared forced us into action. We found out that food could be the cause and definitely the cure as well. -Halie
The HAPPY Organization
During the process and journey in reversing her father’s disease, Haile learned a lot about health and the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States. She was so inspired that she created The HAPPY Organization, which stands for healthy, active, positive, purposeful youth.
Haile’s Non-Profit offers cooking lessons and nutrition education through camps, programs and classes, geared toward children ages 6 through 13 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.
The HAPPY organization is leading the next generation toward a healthier future by bringing cooking lessons and nutrition education to children in underserved areas. -CNN
The young Jamaican-American has been featured on Rachael vs Guy Kids-Cook-Off and Cupcake Wars Kids, both airing on the Food Network. She also worked for two years as the Junior Chef Advisor for Hyatt Hotel’s For Kids – By Kids Menu, with her kids’ menu recipes serving at all Hyatt Resorts in North America and the Caribbean.
Haile has also appeared on the Today Show, Dr Oz, the Home and Family Show, and The Rachael Ray Show. She has been featured in several major publications, including O Magazine, Teen Vogue and YES Magazine.
Most notably, she is the first teen to be featured on the cover of Experience Life Magazine, the October 2016 issue.
Haile is an example for all of you, what your little powerful voices can do to change the world. -Mitchell Obama