The Dakota County Board of Commissioners presented three 2018 Public Health Achievement Awards at its meeting Tuesday, April 10, in continued celebration of National Public Health Week.
This year’s recipients are Hudayfi Barsug, an education assistant at Gideon Pond Elementary School in Burnsville; the youth of Anglos Latinos Motivated to Succeed (ALMAS) at Henry Sibley High School; and the founders of Huitzil Wellness Center in Inver Grove Heights.
Barsug impresses his peers, colleagues and students with his positive attitude, big smile and willingness to help others. He is largely responsible for the success of a sustainable active recess program at his school that helps students increase their movement and participation.
“[Hudayfi] is a positive role model for our students in demonstrating what it means to be active, as well as teaching and showing students what it means to be a contributing member of society,” said Chris Bellmont, principal at Gideon Pond. “I would be hard-pressed to find any of our 480 students or 80 staff members who have not benefited from his positivity, compassion and drive.”
The students in ALMAS focus on community service, leadership development, cultural heritage and academic achievement. Spanish teacher Robert Hanson formed the group in 2001 to improve Latino student achievement and retention, and offer opportunities to continue post-secondary study. ALMAS is meeting its goals and making great contributions to the community’s health. The students take it upon themselves to be advocates and leaders in their community in many ways, including lobbing to protect youth from tobacco products and collecting more than 1,000 shoes for the Neighbors Inc. Clothes Closet.
The mission of the Huitzil Wellness Center is to inspire women to achieve and maintain a holistic well-being, including mental health, physical health and personal development. Owners and sisters Cristina McNamara and Leilani Rodriguez opened the center in March 2017. They recognized the need to have a place in the community for women to learn and practice activities that help them be healthy. They believe that more education, motivation and inspiration are needed in the community for people to take action and become healthier. The center offers a unique and hard-to-find opportunity for women to attend classes, such as yoga or Zumba, or workshops, such as life coaching or nutrition education, in both English and Spanish.
The Dakota County Board established the Public Health Achievement Awards in 2000 to recognize and honor contributions of Dakota County residents who devote their time, energy and talents to creating a healthy future for their fellow county residents.