Centering Love at one of America’s Healthiest Schools
“As a Pacific Islander woman, I feel like I have had to earn inclusivity and equity, tooth and nail.”
- Yolanda Ifflander
Growing up on the rural island of Olongapo in the Philippines, Yolanda remembers the joy of three generations of women sitting around a table laughing, chopping vegetables for family meals while children played nearby. These meals, prepared from local foods, nourished Yolanda’s health, cultural identity, and sense of belonging.
“I wouldn’t trade my upbringing, and I carry on this lifestyle in Alaska today,” Yolanda explains. “Simple things such as family and fresh food are core values for me to stay healthy and well.”
The opportunities and challenges facing the next generation--particularly young people of color--are top of mind for Yolanda. As a parent and a school nurse, Yolanda embodies the inclusivity and community care that defined her childhood in Olangapo.
In 2015, thanks to the dedication of Yolanda and her colleagues, Seward Middle School in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District was named one of America’s Healthiest Schools by Healthier Generation. After three decades of service to her school community, she is nearing a well-earned retirement. Until then, she will continue working to improve policies and practices that impact the health and well-being of KPBSD students and staff.