Haile Thomas - Tucson, Arizona

Haile Thomas is an active 12-year-old from Tucson, Arizona. From a young age Haile developed a deep passion for cooking. She is the lead host of Kids Can Cook, the exciting online cooking show that aims to empower kids with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to prepare healthy meals for themselves and their families. Haile became interested in cooking when she was five, and this interest was nurtured by her mother who frequently allowed her to help plan and prepare family meals. In 2010, after completing a Girls Making Media workshop, Haile was greatly inspired to share her cooking adventures with other kids and Kids Can Cook was launched. In addition to the Kids Can Cook show, which she hosts with her younger sister Nia, Haile has appeared in local televised cooking segments, talk shows, and conducts cooking demonstrations at community events. Haile also enjoys swimming, yoga, tennis, and riding her bike.

As a part of her work Haile over the past year has completed a number of projects that have inspired kids to embrace a healthier lifestyle. She was awarded two grants to implement her service-learning program, the HEAL (Healthy Eating, Active Lifestyle), Festival on Global Youth Service Day. The festival engaged elementary-aged youth in fun physical activities, nutrition education and healthy cooking demonstrations. In addition, she has spoken at three major events including TEDxKids@BC in Vancouver, TEDxTucson, and the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit, at which she spoke about the importance of the voice of youth in the discussions and initiatives aimed at solving the childhood obesity epidemic. She also founded the Healthy Girl Adventures Club, an online portal for girls to engage and inspire each other to embrace healthy habits, and a Blog Talk Radio Show highlighting adult and youth guests who advocate for healthy living. Haile’s goal is to do all she can to inspire children to become interested in learning more about what they eat, and better understand the importance of cooking and living a healthy lifestyle.

What motived you to join the Youth Advisory Board?

I was motivated to join the Youth Advisory Board after reading about some of the awesome opportunities and accomplishments of past board members. I was also interested in joining because I am passionate about doing my part to help put an end to unhealthy habits that affect my generation. I want to inspire other kids to be motivated to get active and eat healthy.

If you could tell your peers one thing they can do to lead a healthier life, what would it be?

I would tell them to learn how to cook, and also have a balanced lifestyle because I believe that if you learn how to cook, you automatically begin to learn more about food and become more interested in knowing about the ingredients that are in your food. And as far as a balanced lifestyle, it’s always good to couple good eating and cooking habits with a good amount of physical exercise.

Why is it important that youth have a voice in the fight against childhood obesity?

It is important that I have a voice because a lot of the time youth can better influence and motivate other youth to make changes or do better with eating healthy and staying active. I also think it’s important because we are being affected by the choices, policies and decisions made by adults and many times we are affected negatively because youth are getting unhealthier and getting diseases that youth didn’t get before. It is important that we are given opportunities to help in the fight against the problems that affect us.

What difference do you hope to make during your time on the Youth Advisory Board?

I hope to make a difference by inspiring other kids to embrace a healthy lifestyle. I hope to do this by encouraging them to learn to cook, and become educated about how good and bad food affects their bodies, overall health and quality of life.