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Student Community Health All-Stars

Students Honored for Inspiring Healthy Change in Community

Across California, students are making a positive impact on the health of their peers and community members. By initiating nutrition education, promoting food literacy and food access, students are leading the way to real change in their schools and local communities. 

Dairy Council of California developed the Student Community Health All-Star Award to recognize these student leaders and is proud to announce the 2017 Student Community Health All-Star Award winners. 

Ramses Ruiz Gets His Friends Involved

At the beginning of the school year, 6th-grader Ramses Ruiz had a dream to create a cooking show that could be viewed by all the students at Harmon Johnson Elementary School in Sacramento, California. With the support of his 6th-grade teacher, Sarah Stepanski, and other community members, Ruiz was able to learn new cooking skills and raise funds to create the show, “Chef Ramses and Friends”

Ruiz creates recipes that include fruits and vegetables and encourages kids and families to cook together. He invites students to cook with him on the show and to sample the final product. Ms. Stepanski says, “Ramses imbues his food with history, tradition, nutrition and love.”

Ruiz says the biggest compliment is when he hears a student say, “I want to make that!” Ruiz encourages all students to step into the kitchen and create meals, rather than rely on premade foods. Ruiz’ motto is “Live life with zest and keep cooking”, which he enthusiastically portrays in this episode of Chef Ramses and Friends. Each new episode reaches nearly 700 students and additional community members.

Maelin Aquino is a Health and Wellness Leader

As a volunteer with the Healthy Rancho Cucamonga Youth Leaders program for seven years, Aquino, a 12th-grader at Alta Loma High School in Rancho Cucamonga, California, has demonstrated leadership and commitment to improving the health of students and community members. Aquino played a significant role in creating the City Nutrition and Beverage Standard Policy for Rancho Cucamonga that now requires all city facilities and city-sponsored events to provide nutritious food options in vending machines, at staff meetings and community-wide events. This policy positively impacts the health of hundreds of thousands of students, employees and families, who live, work and play in Rancho Cucamonga. /Portals/0/Gallery/Album/Healthy%20Eating/Comm%20All%20Stars/Deja%20Group%20Plaque%20Photo_cropped.jpg

In addition, Aquino helped organize and execute the Corner Store Healthy Food Conversion Project. Aquino played a key role in helping the Quick Stop corner store transition into a market that provided fruits, vegetables and nutritious snack options to local middle school students and residents living in an area where grocery stores and fresh produce were lacking. Aquino worked with the store manager, connected with vendors and surveyed store customers to determine which fruits, vegetables and nutritious snacks would be most favorable and culturally accepted. She then collaborated with the store manager to provide suggested produce and nutritious snack choices to offer customers. According to Joanna Marrufo, Management Aide for Healthy Rancho Cucamonga, “Maelin played an essential role in this community-led project because she collaborated well in a team, showed initiative throughout the project and ultimately helped make the Quick Stop corner store conversion a successful endeavor.” Aquino’s dedication has positively impacted the health of hundreds of students and residents in this neighborhood who now have fresh, nutritious options that are easily accessible.

Lastly, she was instrumental in developing the city’s first mental health campaign. Under her leadership, Aquino and other youth leaders created a video, focusing on the messages that no student is alone and the importance of reaching out and seeking help. Aquino and her team developed digital and print materials in English and Spanish for five targeted populations, including young mothers, working dads, senior citizens, teens and the general population. The video was entered into the Directing Change Program and Film Contest and won first place in the San Bernardino County region.

2018 Student Health All-Star Nominations

Dairy Council of California looks forward to recognizing more students next year and will begin accepting nominations for 2018 Student Community Health All-Star in early winter.  If you would like to be notified when the 2018 Student Health All-Star application is available, please email: [email protected].

Student Community Health All-Star Winners

Previous Winners!