Haile Thomas proves that having a passion for health and nutrition doesn’t have an age restriction. At 15 years old, Thomas already is one of the most influential youth health advocates in the country. She is an executive director, a sought-after speaker and an intern at Canyon Ranch Institute. She’s been on countless television shows and even introduced First Lady Michelle Obama at the 2013 Kids State Dinner at the White House.
And it all started when she was only 8 years old. That’s when her father was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. “My family was shocked. Together, we began to research ways to improve his health,” Thomas said. “We quickly saw how eating healthful food and limiting processed food could affect health and wellness. Over time, my dad was able to reverse his condition.”
During her research, Thomas was surprised to learn that youth are affected by nutrition-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. “I realized I could have ended up with a health condition if we hadn’t turned around our lives. I didn’t think a lot of kids knew about this, and I wanted to do something about it.”
With her mother’s help, Thomas applied and in 2010 was accepted onto the Youth Advisory Board of the Clinton Foundation’s Alliance for a Healthier Generation. This gave her a national platform to speak about youth health and nutrition.
The experience inspired Thomas to start The HAPPY Organization, Inc. in 2012. HAPPY stands for Healthy Active Positive Purposeful Youth. The organization provides healthful programs for young people in Tucson, Arizona’s, underserved communities. It offers HAPPY Chefs cooking classes and summer camp, the HAPPY to Play fitness program, and HAPPY to Serve community service projects.
Through HAPPY, Thomas has helped or educated more than 5,000 youth. “We teach kids that it’s up to them to make healthful food taste good. We want them to get creative; to get into the kitchen; and see that healthful food can be easy, nutritious and tasty,” Thomas said. “As a community, we have to become educated together. That’s what worked in our family. If my dad had tried to change his habits on his own, he would not have been successful. It happened because we all worked together.”
Haile Thomas is a 15-year-old youth health advocate, motivational speaker, vegan chef, and founder and executive director of The HAPPY Organization, Inc.
Established in 2012, HAPPY stands for Healthy Active Positive Purposeful Youth. Through HAPPY, Ms. Thomas works to engage, educate and inspire youth and families to embrace healthy habits through cooking classes, basic nutrition education and physical activities that are healthy, fun and engaging.
Ms. Thomas was one of the first young chefs featured on season one of Rachael vs. Guy Kids Cook-Off on the Food Network. Today, she hosts the Plant-Powered Haile YouTube Channel, where she shares delicious and nutritious plant-powered recipes. She is a junior chef advisor for Hyatt Hotel’s For Kids By Kids menu; and a contributing writer for Edible Baja Arizona and Polish Magazine, where she shares healthy recipes and encourages readers to explore new plant-based foods and flavors.
Ms. Thomas serves on several advisory boards, including the Canyon Ranch Institute Life Enhancement Program®, where she works with former Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona and his team of experts. She is health ambassador for Hip Hop Public Health and ambassador chef for Wholesum Harvest Family Farms, Inc., where she develops healthy recipes and cooking videos. Ms. Thomas also is a certified healthy living ambassador with the University of Arizona’s Cooperative Extension 4-H Program.
Her media appearances include: the Food Network, The Rachael Ray Show, Dr. Oz, the TODAY show, Home & Family Show on the Hallmark Channel, O, The Oprah Magazine, Teen Vogue, and YES! Magazine. Learn more at thehappyorg.org.
Life Enhancement Program is a registered trademark of CR License, LLC.