It’s possible that 18-year-old Haile Thomas is (not-so) quietly taking over the world, spreading her message of healthy living and empowerment for America’s youth.
And we’re super ok with that.
At 10, Thomas learned that her father had type 2 diabetes. So she and her family made the decision to change the way they ate and the way they lived. Within about a year, her dad’s condition had reversed.
At 12, she launched her nonprofit HAPPY (Healthy, Active, Positive, Purposeful Youth) – with the goal to teach children about good nutrition through schools and summer camps. The program expanded online in its first year, and the data tells the story: 87% of the 35,000 kids the organization has reached have maintained healthier lifestyles.
Haile has shared her vision with the Partnership for a Healthier America and the Clinton Foundation, cooked for the Obamas, was the Jr. Chef Advisor for the Hyatt Hotel’s North American “For Kids by Kids” healthy menu initiative, and is the youngest Certified Integrative Health Coach in the United States.
Oh, and she’s the founder and host of “Girl Empowered,” a podcast dedicated to broadcasting female voices of empowerment.
Featured in publications and TV shows such as O Magazine, BuzzFeed, The Today Show and Dr. Oz, Thomas uses these platforms to spread the word to the broader public – always with the goal of reaching and teaching young people how to make healthy lifestyle decisions.
It’s easy to see why we wanted her with us at the Heritage Harvest Festival. Here’s what Thomas had to say when we sat down with her.
Tell us about what it’s like to be Haile Thomas these days.
It’s a really busy and ever-evolving, expanding time right now! The tail-end of my teenage years has been heavily focused on learning about myself and how to best take care of me — all while coming into my own. It’s been a journey of growing and learning simultaneously – and figuring out how to nourish my happiness, passions, and wellbeing during that process. It has been both difficult and really beautiful. Ultimately, I know that this transformation period is what I need to become a better version of myself and continue to make a meaningful impact on others.
Give us some highlights of what you’ll share with us at the festival in September. If you had to pick the two most important things you want young people to embrace to help them make healthy food and lifestyle choices, what would these be?
When it comes to making healthy choices, the most important things I’d like my peers to embrace are to be adventurous in eating and understand the power food has to fuel our potential.
We often look at healthy eating and choices as a very secular thing that’s one-dimensional. We see veggies as bland and uninteresting, and view wellness as only related to physical wellbeing. Opening up our view of healthy living allows us to discover the true adventure and multidimensionality within it. Food can be fun! Engaging in adventurous eating lets us discover new favorites and new ways to enhance the ingredients that are good for us. Understanding how food impacts our potential is an incredibly empowering thing. What we eat has the power to deplete or enhance our energy and mental clarity, which directly affects our ability to have the vitality needed to pursue the best version of ourselves.
We hear there’s a book. Congratulations! When can we expect to see it on the shelves, and what’s it about?
There is a book! Living Lively will be out next spring with Harper Collins. It is a ridiculously surreal dream come true for me. The book is part self-help lessons my peers and I have learned growing up, and part plant-based cookbook. I’ve tried to connect the parts of wellness that go far beyond the plate. It’s about holistic empowerment, figuring out who we are and how to achieve a positive evolution – as well as how to prepare meals that make us feel happy and nourished! I hope the book will be like a big sister – a “human101” guide for my generation.
Join Haile Thomas at the festival on Saturday, Sept. 21st!
Recommended for grandparents, parents and kids!
Kids Zone Meet ‘n Greet
11:40 AM – 12 NOON