School nurse pilots holistic health program for adults in the community

Latasha Lee (center) is a school nurse and the founder of Healthy Helpful Insights, a locally owned business which promotes holistic and community-centered health.  Photo by Farrington Llewellyn

Latasha Lee (center) is a school nurse and the founder of Healthy Helpful Insights, a locally owned business which promotes holistic and community-centered health. Photo by Farrington Llewellyn

By Cirien Saadeh Staff Reporter 

In January, gyms fills up with resolutioners, those wanting to use the beginning of the new year as motivation to get healthy. Latasha Lee, a registered nurse and the founder and CEO of Healthy Helpful Insights (HHI), hopes that commitment can become lifelong.

Lee founded her business, which promotes a holistic and community-focused approach to healthy living, in Aug. 2018, in memory of her sister Sabrina who passed away from complications due to lupus in 2009.

Following the completion of the first Healthy Helpful Insights trial, Lee and participants, as well as family and friends, gathered to celebrate participant accomplishments. The next trial begins in Feb. 2019. Photo by Farrington Llewellyn

Following the completion of the first Healthy Helpful Insights trial, Lee and participants, as well as family and friends, gathered to celebrate participant accomplishments. The next trial begins in Feb. 2019. Photo by Farrington Llewellyn

“My desire to participate in health and wellness came about at an early age. I had an aunt who died of Lupus when I was younger, not knowing that twenty years later I would lose my sister to lupus. Growing up as young girls, we both had desires to be nurses, because we had lost a family member. She was never able to finish nursing school, but I was, so I am fulfilling our dream in her absence,” said Lee. “I was also born with a heart defect, so I was not allowed to be active as a young child. It was not until high school that I became more active and that is when I began realizing how important being active is.”

In Aug. 2018, Lee launched HHI’s first pilot group. Nine women joined the program and went through a guided six-week series focused on meal prep, fitness introductions, and communal meals. Lee also asked each participant to track their daily activities in a journal and reflect on any questions or challenges that came up for them. Each participant was also given a resource binder.

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Clients were asked to pay a $10 recommended donation for each week of the program. For Lee, the purpose of the pilots is to test the program and figure out what works and what does not as she expands the organization and the work that she does.

“I need people to be able to afford what I am offering and not think as much about the dollar amount,” Lee. Lee brings in revenue and offsets program costs by selling merchandise, including t-shirts and aprons, that help keep the program affordable for participants.

Lee hopes that HHI is a resource for encouraging, educating, teaching, and training North Minneapolis and other communities, where she hopes to expand to, about healthy living and the importance of being healthy.

According to Sandra Bakare, who participated in the first pilot, the best part of the program was Lee’s focus on holistic health. She is also looking forward to participating in the ten-week pilot program launching in January.

“The participants did not want to end the first pilot. Some of us still meet up at the gym. I was able to get control of my blood pressure without medication. I lost some weight and learned some different recipes,” said Bakare. “Lee asked me to come back as an ambassador for the program. I am looking forward to learning more stick-and-stay, learning more about getting healthy.”

Outside of her work with HHI, Lee is a school nurse with the St. Paul Public Schools who moved to Minnesota in Aug. 2016.

Learn more about the organization at hhimn.com. The next pilot program launches in Feb. 2019.

Cirien Saadeh