Armed with fruit, a new face greeted Ardmore High School students back to school Wednesday.
Bethany Maddox is the HealthCorps coordinator assigned to AHS.
HealthCorps is a nonprofit organization founded by Dr. Mehmet Oz and his wife, Lisa Oz. Coordinators are trained and deployed to high-risk high schools to implement a curriculum focused on mental resilience, nutrition and fitness.
"There is a need for this kind of program in Ardmore," Maddox says. "It takes a holistic view of health by including the mental with fitness and nutrition."
The program is currently in 62 schools in 13 states. AHS is the third Oklahoma school, after Astec Charter High School in Oklahoma City and Ada High School.
"The administration here saw the benefit it could have on their students, and have been very supportive," Maddox says.
During the next two years, Maddox will teach the program's curriculum through visits to classes and organize after-school events to promote healthy living.
"High school is a really vulnerable time for kids when they are developing lifelong habits to carry into beyond," Maddox says. "I wish somebody had told me how much sugar was in a Mt. Dew at this age."
She will also work with staff to develop programming specific for their adult needs. Early brainstorms with staff have already brought forth ideas of Zumba and potlucks.
After the two years, the program is set up to be sustainable by the school.
"It's my job to get the ball rolling," Maddox says. "When I leave, the school will be able to go on its own. The school can continue the healthy initiatives."
Maddox, an Atlanta native, graduated from the University of Georgia in May. She attended a month-long training in Sacramento, Calif., with the other coordinators now assigned across the country, before moving to Ardmore.
She has enjoyed her first couple weeks in Ardmore.
"Ardmore's been good to me. Cowboy hats and belt buckles are the only thing I have had to get used to," Maddox says.
Excited to start working, Maddox greeted students Wednesday morning with samples of cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon.
"It didn't really matter where I was placed. I am excited to do what I'm doing," she says.