PSI-Caribbean prides itself on providing life-saving information, products and services to tackle the most pressing health problems, so that people can lead healthier, happier, more productive lives.
We make it easier for women and couples to plan the families they desire, protect themselves and their families from, HIV and AIDS, gender based violence and chronic diseases.
As just one of many health entities in Trinidad and Tobago and by the extension the region, we are not the only ones doing the work.
In this new series of we will be featuring other pioneers in Caribbean health education, who are also doing great work in the health areas in which we work.
In December we caught up with 25-year-old Sheldon Justin Carter, also known as Coach Carter. The young Mr Carter is the founder of Hope Nutrition Health and Wellness Club in Arouca which offers nutrition and fitness support services to help clients reach their desired health goals.
“I want to share the importance of living a healthier, more active lifestyle. Coaching happened organically. It was not what I set out to do. I started on my personal road to fitness and people started asking me what I was doing to the get my results. As more people started coming to me, it slowly developed into a business,” said Sheldon.
Hope Nutrition Health and Wellness Club offers physical assessments, body scans, meal plans, booth camps an aerobics with plans to integrate yoga. Justin calls it a spot to impact the community and offer a more holistic option than which is offered by gyms. What attracted us to Coach Carter’s story is his approach to community intervention, which is very similar to ours.
“I’m from Manzanilla, so I wanted to start at home. I had a dream to bring this opportunity to my community…to give back. People in the ‘Country’ have their own ideas about nutrition and exercise based on years of beliefs, behaviours and the culture of rural communities. I wanted to reach people where they are, make connections and bring different nutrition and exercise ideals to Manzanilla. We are so proud of the work we have done in the area, including our Mega Pink, Fit Camp for Breast Cancer Awareness month in October 2015, which we self-funded. For Christmas of that year we put together hampers which we distributed to those most in need from Manzanilla to Mayaro”.
In 2016, Mr Carter decided it was time to move the business from Manzanilla to somewhere more central and easily accessible, to position himself for growth.
“Hope is still in its building stage. Every day we see a little growth. The environment is competitive and for me it’s no longer about trying to build large numbers but more about having maximum impact with small numbers, ensuring fully satisfied participants who can then make referrals having used the service and benefited”.
In 2014 PSI-Caribbean began developing Core a stand-alone non-communicable disease prevention program using a Life Course Approach, focusing prevention efforts on youth between 10-19 years of age with the aim of increasing their physical activity, improving their diet and reducing tobacco and alcohol use to prevent the development of chronic diseases.
In Trinidad and Tobago, Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) account for over 60 percent of premature loss of life (death before 70 years). The prevalence of diabetes in Trinidad and Tobago is one of the highest of all the countries in the region of the Americas (PAHO).
With the similarities in our work and the need to immediately address chronic disease, we asked Coach Carter to share his thoughts on addressing NCD prevention.
“Our culture has a huge role to play in our eating habits. For example, high carbohydrate intake. It is a Caribbean problem that needs to be addressed starting at the household level. Families need to be involved in making the change. It is less about what you should stop eating or drinking and more about portion control, moderation and getting people moving!”
In closing Coach Carter went on to say that he has no regrets about venturing into health and wellness as a career. He said, “In years to come people will realize more and more, how important health and wellness is. Technology may be advancing but we are also killing ourselves in the process. I am here to do my little part in making this world healthier”.
Coach Carter is currently at the University of the Southern Caribbean studying Bio Medicine and has plans to move to the University of the West Indies to pursue qualifications in dietetics and nutrition.
We applaud the work of this young fitness pioneer and wish him best of luck as he continues on his mission to help other people succeed and look forward to collaborating one day.
As part of our own non-communicable disease prevention effort, we initiated a recruitment drive to rally participants for our FUN, FITNESS & NUTRITION program which starts on January 20th and runs for 8 weeks.
In partnership with Movement Mechanics, PSI-C’s CORE Youth Movement Program is open to males and females ages 13-16. We will tell you more about this exciting initiative as the weeks progress.