Health Happens Heroes

Health Happens Heroes

The California Endowment in partnership with Sacramento Kings recognize three sacramento health happens heroes.

Three Community Champions Bring Change to Local Schools with Improved Health and Fitness among Students and Families

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California Endowment, in partnership with the Sacramento Kings, celebrated local community members during tonight’s halftime for their efforts in improving the health of Sacramento students by making physical activity and nutrition a priority in their schools. Three extraordinary physical education teachers Heather Deckard, Elizabeth Stewart and Paul Hein, have been instrumental in making health happen in schools and neighborhoods throughout Sacramento County.

“At The California Endowment, we know health doesn’t just happen in a doctor’s office,” said Daniel Zingale, Senior Vice President of The Endowment. “Health happens where we live, learn and play. These Health Happens Heroes are helping to make health a priority in Sacramento schools and in doing so, building stronger, healthier communities.”

Heather Deckard, Physical Education Coordinator with Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD), was key in establishing the SCUSD-“Get Fit with the Kings” partnership. The program encourages students and families to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle through efforts such as Family Fitness Nights and the restoration of the Will C. Wood Middle School track.

“I am proud to be part of such a remarkable effort that not only helps students and their families make physical activity and nutrition an important part of their lives. We know that science proves the correlation between physical activity and academic achievement and with these efforts we get to witness the positive impact on our students on a daily basis.

Walking Wednesdays, started by Paul Hein, brings families and students of the Sacramento community together for an activity that encourages healthy lifestyle changes which include moderate to vigorous physical activity. Students, parents and staff come together before class every Wednesday for a 20 to 30 minute walking session.

Stewart, a Physical Education Teacher at Will C. Wood has embraced the Health Happens Here initiative by creating a point system rubric that holds students responsible for their academics and their healthy habits. The program has grown over the last two years and is now being used throughout the entire school. Her everyday efforts include quality physical education, afterschool fitness clubs such as break dancing, marathon fitness training and encourages families to participate on campus with their children after school.

“It is just as important for families to eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle as it is for our players, “said Matina Kolokotronis, president of business operations of the Sacramento Kings. “The Sacramento Kings are committed to encouraging youth to engage in a healthy, active lifestyle and are excited to see that The Endowment and its partners are recognizing Health Happens Heroes, showing appreciation to those who make a difference in the health of our students, families and communities.”

About The California Endowment

The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. Headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, The Endowment has regional offices in Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno and San Diego, with program staff working throughout the state. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people’s health. The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention. For more information, visit The California Endowment’s homepage at

About Building Health Communities: Sacramento

In 2009 South Sacramento was selected as one of 14 cities to become a Building Healthy Community site. Asian Resources was chosen as the Community organization to be the host agency for the planning process and what has developed into the BHC Hub. The 10-month planning process began with a small group of community residents and organizations and grew quickly with over 6,500 stakeholders providing input into the plan, over 300 workgroup/committee members and a leadership team of 25 steering committee members. At the conclusion of the planning process in June 2010, the data from some 8,000 surveys revealed the top five outcomes and strategies that residents, including our youth, identified as priorities for making our area healthier and safer for everyone. To date, over 20 organizations have received funding in the areas of food access, heath access, land use, youth development, and more to create that benefits the community. A new steering committee is in place to provide governance, guidance and small grants to community groups. Stakeholders now participate in the Hub, which is the “central table” where organizations, residents, and those concerned in the BHC can come and find out what is going on and how they can get involved.

About Maloof Sports & Entertainment (MS&E)

Maloof Sports & Entertainment includes the Sacramento Kings and Power Balance Pavilion. Owned by the Maloof family with long-term, local partners, the organization is committed to being a contributing member of the Sacramento community. Teaming up with local leaders and non-profit organizations to give back to those in need throughout the region, MS&E has donated millions of dollars to charity in 12 years of Maloof family ownership. For more information about Maloof Sports & Entertainment, please visit, or call 916-928-0000.

Written by: Megan Range of Mercury LLC