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| March 5, 2015

Brooke, a senior at Fort Osage High School, always considered herself relatively healthy. She played basketball during her first two years of high school, never really worried much about her diet, and loved to be outdoors. Her views on health changed, however, when her Anatomy and Physiology class implemented the Healthe Foundations program.

During the two-week program, Brooke’s class was divided into groups and assigned patients with preventable medical conditions. Brooke’s group focused on a patient named Stefani—a 26-year-old high school health teacher, soccer coach and outdoor enthusiast. Though Stefani seemingly led a healthy life, her sunbathing and resistance to sunscreen led to melanoma.

“I used to tan a lot and was really conscious of people seeing my white legs,” admitted Brooke. “Knowing that Stefani was just outside coaching soccer and that she didn’t actually go to a tanning bed every day to get extra exposure, but she still got melanoma—that scared me. I purposefully did that to myself. I haven’t tanned since the program.”

Hearing about her classmates’ patients affected her as well.

“Personally, since I quit basketball, I’ve noticed myself gaining weight. I don’t necessarily eat more, but I don’t exercise nearly enough. So after learning about all of the heart conditions, joint pain and things like that, I’ve definitely been working on it,” Brooke divulged.

Her journey to better health continued after she became a Healthe Foundations summer intern. One component of that internship was a fitness challenge. Students were given Fitbit trackers to monitor steps taken and were given a goal of 7,500 steps per day. They broke into groups and competed to see which group achieved the most steps by the end of the internship.

“I am definitely a lot more out of shape than I thought I was,” said Brooke. “When I first started the steps challenge, I tried to go on an hour-long walk and by the time I was done I was hot and sweaty. Before, when I played basketball, I was never like that. So I started to realize I have a lot more work to do.”

The interns were also given nutrition goals—they were challenged to eat one serving of fruit and two servings of vegetables per day, in addition to tracking their daily water consumption.

“I never realized how few fruits and vegetables I ate a day. I will definitely start drinking more water and eating more fruits and vegetables now.”

The competition pushed Brooke to improve her overall health.

“At first, it was just that everyone else was ahead of me in steps and fruits and veggies. I wanted to be number one—I wanted to push myself to be better. So I started going on walks every single evening and I never used to do that. Then I started feeling better about myself and I’m happier. I’m not as tired all the time.”

An aspiring pediatric nurse practitioner, Brooke is grateful for the program and what it taught her.

“Healthe Foundations is a really good program. I didn’t know there were companies out there that put money aside and volunteered for things like this. It’s nice to know that First Hand really cares about my personal health.

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