SOSMentor's first project was to create DVDs featuring virtual tours of 50 colleges, which we distributed to local high schools, libraries and community colleges. We conducted College Knowledge workshops to provide students with information about financial aid and preparing for college.
SOSMentor also conducted academic mentoring programs in three elementary schools, funded by $25,000 in contributions from several local Rotary Clubs.
In 2007, SOSMentor identified a need for nutrition and fitness education at Santee Education Complex, an inner-city school located in an impoverished area of South Los Angeles. According to the California Department of Education’s Physical Fitness Report, only 12.9% of 9th Graders at Santee met all 6 criteria for physical fitness. Thirty-six percent met 3 or less of the criteria. Further, an informal survey revealed that 85% of the participating students had family members who were diagnosed with diabetes and were experiencing related problems such as amputation, blindness and kidney failure.
The pilot project conducted at Santee was similar to the original ShapeUp program held at Belmont: after 6 weeks of nutrition training by a Registered Dietitian and adult mentors, 33 high school students mentored 77 San Pedro Elementary students and 79 extended family members ranging in age from 7 to 67. Based on their weekly food diaries and journal comments, the high school students were making better food and exercise choices at the end of the 6-week program. 15% of the students lost weight and lowered their BMI (body mass index), moving them out of the "obese" category.
2000: SOSMentor is founded as a college readiness and career planning program
2006: SOSMentor creates the ShapeUp program
SOSMentor created the ShapeUp program after students at Belmont High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) identified childhood obesity as their primary concern. In collaboration with A World Fit for Kids, we developed and conducted an after-school nutrition education program for 10 students at Belmont High School. Modeled on "The Academic Mentor Program" initiated by former Governor Pete Wilson, the Belmont program was taught by a Registered Dietitian and a group of mentors who met with students weekly to promote optimal nutrition and fitness.
Due to the success of the Belmont program, SOSMentor soon developed a more structured 12-week nutrition and fitness program called ShapeUp: Healthy Steps for Healthy Lives. This after-school nutrition and fitness education program was developed to address childhood obesity and other health-related issues among at-risk elementary and high school students in underserved neighborhoods in the greater Los Angeles area.
In the first 6 weeks of the ShapeUp Program, a Registered Dietitian and/or graduate student teaches high school students about nutrition concepts in weekly workshops. The students develop solutions to nutrition and physical activity-related questions by working interactively with volunteer mentors (graduate students, business professionals, and certificated teachers). The mentors encourage the students to make healthier food choices and be physically active. With the help of mentors, students are empowered to become advocates for healthier lifestyles and to teach their family and friends to adopt the same positive behaviors.
During the next five weeks, the trained high school students become nutrition and fitness mentors to younger students, utilizing information they learned from the ShapeUp workshops and their adult mentors. This tiered-mentoring approach provides the high school students with an opportunity to learn and demonstrate leadership skills that encourage healthier lifestyles, and provides younger students, friends, and family with positive role models to emulate.
2007: ShapeUp is offered as a pilot project as Santee Education Complex
As a result of the popularity of the ShapeUp Program at Santee Education Complex in 2007, students and staff requested that the program return in 2008. Additionally, a team of Registered Dietitians from the USC Keck School of Medicine contacted our founders, Dr. Robert and carole Donahue, to begin a partnership that would bring the ShapeUp Program to an East Los Angeles high school in 2008. Working with the USC Keck team, the Donahue’s updated the curriculum to include more hands-on activities. The revised curriculum was implemented in 2008 at both Santee Education Complex and Garfield High School.
Since its inception in 2006, the ShapeUp Program has been implemented in 30 Los Angeles schools and children’s centers. The program continues to expand each year and experiences high demand from other schools and venues.
2008-2011: ShapeUp expands to 30 LA schools
In 2011, SOSMentor launched the 1st Annual LAUSD Healthy Schools Campaign in partnership with LAUSD Beyond the Bell Branch, LAUSD School Nursing Services, and St. Vincent Medical Center. The Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) is an unprecedented effort to educate students in LA Unified School District, the second largest school district in the nation, about healthy eating and physical activity.
In the Spring semester of 2011 and 2012, SOSMentor trained hundreds of after school staff and school nurses to implement the HSC curriculum and Healthy Messages Poster Contest. The Campaign reached over 14,000 students in 700 schools each year. In addition to acquiring the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy eating choices and stay active, students in the HSC completed a "Students Teaching Parents" requirement in which they shared what they learned in the Campaign with their parents. Hundreds of students of all ages submitted artwork illustrating healthy messages about nutrition and fitness in a district-wide poster contest.
SOSMentor also held ShapeUp programs at Belmont High School & Castro Middle School, and James Monroe High School & Gledhill Elementary School in Fall 2011. In Spring 2012, we brought ShapeUp to University High School & Brockton Elementary School, and Hollywood High School & Selma Elementary School. SOSMentor also teamed up with CONTRA-TIEMPO, an “urban Latin” dance company, to offer dance classes alongside our nutrition curriculum at Monroe High School.
2011-present: SOSMentor launches the LAUSD Healthy Schools Campaign