What is your name & location?
Haile Thomas - New York
How do you help people heal?
I help people heal through my work as & health activist and through my non-profit, HAPPY (healthy, active, positive, purposeful, youth). Through both of these outlets, whether its social media, speaking engagements, or through in-school programs/summer camps Iʼm able to share about the health and healing benefits of plant-based foods. And, bring awareness, especially to youth, about the importance of being aware of, not only whatʼs in certain food and drink products, but the impact those things have on our bodies and overall well-being. Sharing this empowering information is critical to helping others make informed choices, and contribute to their own health. I also have the joy of making that experience fun, delicious, and engaging. Being able to help heal others in this creative and very connective outlet of food is amazing to me. I'm super grateful to have this passion for nourishing food and to invest all of my passion into it and have that translate through everything that I do.
What type of benefits does your method of healing provide?
The main big-picture benefits I believe are spreading awareness, resulting in educated and empowered young people who then have the potential, the tools, and motivation to make changes in their lives that will ultimately create healthier, happier people & communities/future generations. Other benefits as it relates to my approach is to show healthy eating can be fun, inspire creativity, and of course be healing. Changing the narrative in this way I believe is a great benefit, and hopefully an outlook that will enable more people to improve the way they eat and not see it as a huge challenge, or a process of restriction, but rather something that can be accomplished, enjoyed and with great health and healing benefits.
When did you realize that you wanted to help people heal/why did you start?
I realized I wanted to help heal others after my family successfully healed my dad and reversed his Type-2 Diabetes with healthy lifestyle changes and no medication. His recovery came from deeply investing in his health and well-being and also investing in becoming educated about various food and health topics, and seeing what ways could we improve our lifestyle & our diet. Doing this all together as a family was so empowering and rewarding. That is definitely my main inspiration. With that said, going through this process as an eight-year-old and seeing how much I wasnʼt aware of when it came to food, nutrition, & the food system, I quickly discovered that my peers were just as undereducated on the topic. I was angry when I learned that kids in my generation and younger were already being affected by ailments like diabetes, heart disease, obesity etc. & those statistics inspired me to try to do something about it. I didnʼt want anyone else to become a victim of their food choices and fall ill because of lack of education. I was fired up and had living proof of just how powerful food is. I really wanted to share my voice and share what I learned with not only my peers but also with adults, because it is extremely important for young people to be a part of this conversation.
Why is what you do so important?
It's so important to spread awareness on the topic of food, nutrition, and wellbeing because it can truly change and transform lives and can fuel incredible futures. Advocating for plant foods, in particular is of great importance to me because vegetables are always thrown under the bus and treated as though theyʼre not incredibly healing, delicious & versatile. To me, it is essential to shed a new light on these green and rainbow foods especially for my generation that has grown up literally with fast food containers in our hands, unhealthy products constantly marketed to us, and again, with absolutely no true awareness of how food (especially unhealthy food products) affects our bodies and overall health and well-being. Actually we generally arenʼt educated about the good foods as well. Especially communities who canʼt afford expensive cooking or nutrition camps or programs. Itʼs just a really unfortunate system.
What is your inspiration to continue doing what you are doing? What is the fuel that keeps you going?
My inspiration & fuel to continue to do what I do is absolutely the kids that I'm able to impact & touch through every single one of our programs. Seeing how easily young people can change their perspectives on what they're eating in just one day is magical. I've seen kids go from being completely addicted to sugary, salty, fatty foods to finally understanding how these foods impact their bodies & health begin to make better choices. Or seeing kids build the courage, knowledge, and skills to then become active change agents helping their own families deal with certain ailments & being a part of that conversation is incredibly inspiring.
How does it make you feel when you are helping people heal?
I think there's really nothing that could be more humbling to me than empowering a young person, or any person…especially through something they now understand that they can help control. I think being a kid/teen can sometimes feel very stifling and controlled by everyone else but yourself. Adults are primarily handling your life. So educating, empowering and inspiring young people to care about their health is so important, because it gives them a valid role in their present lives and also prepares them for the future of self-care that they will need to engage in.
What are your visions &/or goals?
My visions and goals are very big and I donʼt think they will ever stop growing, but I would love to see this message continue to grow and hopefully our non-profit programs can reach kids not only in the US but also around the world. Iʼm truly looking forward to one day having a facility to host our camp and cooking classes with full-blown built-in kitchens and a space to do all of our teaching. That would be amazing. Again, my biggest goal is to continue expanding on everything that. I'm doing and continue to take it to new heights in whatever way that manifests.
Tell us & fun fact about what it is that you do or something people may not know about you.
In my free time I love to study photography, use my friends and family as models, make short films and silly music videos with my siblings. It's a very free and creative outlet for me… I love using cameras and editing. Also most recently Iʼve gotten into crystals. They are so beautiful and mystical. Iʼm enjoying learning about them and their many incredible uses and benefits.
In one sentence, what is your message to the world?
We can absolutely achieve our dreams and goals if we first fuel the vessel that is supporting it.
(& Never underestimate the voice and potential of & young person.)
You can find Haile at www.hailevthomas.com & on Instagram at @hailethomas