Meet Health Promise Coach Sheldon Williams
By Southwest Key on 04/18/2013 @ 07:54 AM
When Superintendent Dr. Joe Gonzales was looking for people to help round out the health and wellness curriculum at East Austin College Prep, Sheldon Williams was an obvious choice.
A resident of East Austin, Williams grew up just down the street from EAPrep partner Southwest Key Programs on Jain Lane. Williams wanted to be “the best basketball player in the world” as a kid and, since he was skinny, began working out at an early age. He notes, “Working out didn’t hurt with the girls either.”
After playing some college basketball, Williams played semi-professionally in Arizona. In 1988, he received his first National Federation of Professional Trainers certification and in 1998 his Master Personal Trainer certification.
Williams began working with East Austin College Prep when the school opened its doors in 2009. During school he works with the students and, after school, he works with East Austin Children’s Promise partner, the Boys & Girls Club. He focuses his instruction on the science behind working out; helping students understand what is happening in the body when they use their muscles and how nutrition impacts their work outs. He follows the lessons with fresh smoothies that he makes for the kids.
Health Promise - Promesa de Salud the initiative of East Austin Children’s Promise offering physical fitness and nutritional programs for the whole community began in 2012 and Williams was a perfect fit. He serves as the Food Referee for East Austin College Prep lunches. Williams monitors the lunch room, pointing out “No, Whoa, and Go” foods for kids. “No” foods being those in high in saturated fat, salt, or refined sugar. When an offending food is discovered, Williams throws a “food flag” to let the student know.
When he began working at East Austin College Prep he would see “kids bouncing around from all the sugar and unhealthy carbs during the day and then they crash in the evening right when they need to work on homework." Working with the cafeteria staff, Williams has seen vast improvement in the food served to students.
“Today we had salad with grilled chicken, a light sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, and a small garlic bread stick. The kids loved it!” Williams beams.
“This is the best thing I’ve ever done,” Williams says of working with East Austin College Prep, “I’ve been a personal trainer my whole adult life, but this gives me the most joy.”
He credits the family and community feel of Southwest Key Programs for making the position such a joy, “It’s really about building relationships. Young minds need to know they have a sounding board and I love helping people.”
Williams has seen a change in the students in his time with the program.
“Their usual reaction to getting a food flag for junk food was to say, “Ah, nawh, I like these." Now I have a group of 9th graders who call me over to their table and ask me about certain foods or for tips on how to have a better workout. It’s great to see,” says Williams.
Looking toward EAPrep’s future, Williams sees students graduating and heading to college, perhaps even being recruited for sports in college.
The community at East Austin College Prep and Southwest Key really makes all the difference in Williams’ mind. “I have a passion for these kids and this community, just like everyone else here does. That’s what makes the program work; it comes from a passion in my soul to see this community succeed.”