Activist and author encourages students to ‘find potential’


Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Haile Thomas is the youngest to graduate from the institute for Integrative Nutrition as a certified health coach, among other accomplishments.

Jessica Orlando, Reporter

Last Thursday, March 11, Oakland University hosted another webinar in their ongoing OU Encore series. The webinar featured Haile Thomas speaking about wellness, compassion and nourishing someone’s potential. 

Thomas is an international speaker, wellness and compassion activist and the author of “Living Lively.” She is also the youngest to graduate from the institute for Integrative Nutrition as a certified health coach. Thomas is also the CEO of the non-profit HAPPY

Thomas has personally engaged with over 90,000 people around the world and has spoken at numerous notable platforms such as TEDx and Teen Vogue Summit. She has also been featured on Rachel Ray and Today, as well as given the title “Young Wonder” by CNN. 

Thomas explained that the beginning of her interest in food was through her family’s cooking and her overall childhood experience with the Jamaican culture. 

“Our lunches were curry goat and oxtail as well as rice and peas which most kids in my school thought was super weird, but for me I really enjoyed this incredible diversity of food,” Thomas said. 

In 2009, everything changed for Thomas.  After her dad was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, her perspective on food and wellness was thought about more critically. 

“We started to really become empowered and discovered that nourishing foods could potentially bring a solution to the illness [Type 2 Diabetes] he was facing,” Thomas said. “Within only a year we were able to completely reverse my dad’s condition without the use of medication.”

After Thomas’ dad recovered, she realized that she wanted to take action and share her knowledge of nourishment with the rest of her peers. 

“I had no idea how to translate a message on healthy eating, but I knew that the way I learned about it was through love, compassion and creativity,” Thomas said. 

Thomas realized that her initial approach to spreading the message of well-being wasn’t necessarily educational or empowering for her peers. 

“Unfortunately, for a short period of time, I was that super annoying kid with her quinoa salad and yelling at her friends for eating pizza because it was clogging her arteries,” Thomas said. 

Effective communication and education should be fun and exciting, not about yelling at your peers. Thomas noticed that her creativity and passion for cooking could fuel her outreach to grow in a more positive direction. 

“I founded my non-profit HAPPY, which stands for ‘healthy active positive purposeful youth,’ and our entire mission is to provide wellness education from an empowering standpoint, but also making it super fun and engaging,” Thomas said. 

Through HAPPY, Thomas has been able to focus on the education and understanding of why individuals should eat certain ingredients over others. 

“We do a class called Sugar Shockers and it’s where we investigate food labels and we also look into certain ingredients,” Thomas said. “Some of my favorite moments are when we can shock them with certain ingredients like duck feathers in Hot Pockets.” 

Thomas expressed how lucky she is to be able to share her message of wellness and empowerment with the world. She hopes that everyone can be well during these hard times and continue to find a place of enrichment within themselves. 

“I think that’s the really beautiful thing about our journeys, is that we can learn and grow with each other and through our own individual experiences,” Thomas said.