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High School Wellness Clinic Underway

Community support needed for worthy dream

By Lauren Del Sarto

Junior Federico Pullido addresses attendees at a tour of the future wellness center site.

Indio High Health & Nutritional Science Academy (HANS) teacher Jason Tate has a dream – to build a comprehensive wellness clinic in his high school – and he is almost there.

Tate has brought many dreams to fruition in his tenure as a biology teacher at Indio High including the formation of the HANS academy which teaches students forensics, functional medicine, mind-body medicine, medical terminology, electronic health records, and much more.

Whereas we previously had auto body, woodshop and home economics, HANS students perform fictional autopsies, diagnose case studies presenting with specific conditions, and learn to tie sutures in lab. They even take part in community internships with doctors and other health care practitioners.

Much of the focus, however, is on prevention with movement, nutrition and mental/behavioral health as the “three pillars” of the academy. From Tate and associate Lourdes Flores, kids learn the physiology of digestion, food as medicine, mind-body healing techniques, meditation and yoga.

“We feel that this is a great opportunity to give the kids the best possible gift, the gift of a life free of chronic disease with massively reduced diabetes, heart disease, and cancer,” says Tate, “for them and their families, because the message spreads far beyond the classroom.”

Tate was inspired to create the health academy three years ago so that Indio High’s future doctors had at least one year of advanced nutrition and medical nutrition therapy knowledge. 10 percent of the students (200) take part; the classes are so popular that students have to apply to get in.

Eisenhower Health medical residents work with and educate academy members.

Now, he has his sight set on a wellness clinic built within the school and run by a medical director, medical residents and senior health academy students who apply for positions in the clinic. Clients will include staff, students and their families, and possibly others from the community. The design includes exam rooms, a physician’s office, a reception area, conference room and a mindfulness/fitness room.

The dream is supported by community leaders including many at Eisenhower Health, Loma Linda Hospital’s Indio team and the school board. Plans have been developed and applications submitted. According to Tate, the district has the funding for the project, but it is being held up for unknown reasons.

“There seems to be a road block that we can’t figure out,” says Tate. “We continue to ask what else they need from us, but don’t get any clear answers.” The holdup is frustrating for Tate and his team as room has been cleared in the pending site with ad hoc learning facilities set up around it. “We would love to go to the district with a long list of names of community members and leaders who believe in and support this idea,” says Tate who encourages all to reach out to him via phone or email.

In the meantime, Tate and Flores continue to inspire kids with the invaluable life lessons they teach.

“Nutrition is very important to us as human beings because it keeps us alive,” says senior Juan Nava, who is also an intern at Avid Physical Therapy. “As medicine is evolving, there is more focus on prevention instead of curing what is here now and we are learning a lot of that here.”

“At the academy, we hear all sides of the conversation which is new to us,” says junior Scarlett Moya. “In school when you are learning, you are usually told this is right and this is wrong, but these courses are completely different because they go into how people feel about the subject and I think that is really interesting.”

For more information on how you can support the HANS Academy Wellness Clinic, please contact Jason Tate jason.tate@desertsands.us or (760)775.3550.

Indio High School Wellness Clinic design

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