(Health Heroes listed from left to right in the picture: Michael Howell, Officer Guillermo Garcia, Twin Falls Youth Council (adult leader accepted the award), and Preston Gonzalez.)
Michael Howell (Adult Volunteer)
Michael Howell took a tragedy in his life and turned it into an incredible opportunity for good. Michael seriously injured his brain in a four-wheeling accident in the South Hills in 2008. Multiple surgeries, epilepsy, loss of language, and memory loss all plagued Michael’s recovery- but they didn’t stop him. In 2017, realizing there are few resources for people with brain injuries in the Magic Valley, Michael worked with CSI to create his own group: the Traumatic Brain Injury Support Group. He spends his own time, and some personal money, to help advertise the group and has recruited anywhere from four to 23 attendees every month. Some members travel from Pocatello and Boise to attend these meetings. Michael, you bring a little bit of peace and love to some of our residents who need it most. Thank you for all you do. You are a great example of a Health Hero!
Officer Guillermo Garcia (Adult Professional)
As a school resource officer, Officer Garcia puts on his police uniform every day and goes to work protecting students in the Jerome School District. Officer Garcia went above and beyond this year when he noticed a problem with speeding on the streets around the high school. Officer Garcia rallied students and staff to raise enough money to install radar speed signs outside the high school and Stop the Bleed kits inside all of the district buildings. Officer Garcia educated students on the need for these kits and signs, and helped them gather data to show that need. Thanks to Officer Garcia’s efforts, our Jerome School District is better prepared and safer for our children. Thank you Officer Garcia for being a pro-active community Health Hero!
Twin Falls Youth Council (Organization)
Every year the Twin Falls Youth Council picks a community service or awareness project. Previous activities include their “Selfie with a Cop” program, Arbor Day planting events, and group clean up days along the Canyon Rim Trail. This year the students chose to focus on an issue hitting high schools across the nation: teen suicide. The group joined the “Be The 1 To” movement, and have been attending community events to hand out mental health posters and spread teen suicide awareness. The Twin Falls Youth Council is also hosting their own event this May: a color run along the Canyon Rim Trail. Each color they’ll use represents a different step in communicating with someone that may be suicidal. The money raised from the event will help the group purchase swag they plan to hand out during school sporting events to promote the 12 steps in suicide prevention awareness. This group is a great example to teenagers and adults in the community. Thank you for being our Health Heroes!
Preston Gonzalez (Youth under 18)
Preston is a remarkable young man. He spends much of his free time in extracurricular activities: speech and debate, high school band, National Honor Society, and high school track -- just to name a few. When choosing a senior project, Preston looked for something that could make a real difference. Partnering with the health district, Preston met with the Kimberly High School Board and District Superintendent to convince both groups vaping should be included in the school and district drug policy. Along with the policy changes, Preston was able to get new “No Smoking or Vaping” signs for their school district. He did such a good job, Preston was invited by the American Cancer Society to speak with Idaho legislators in Boise about e-cigarette use among teenagers, and what he has seen in Kimberly High School. South Central Public Health District is grateful to have a young man so invested in his community’s health and future. Well done Preston!