Health Focused Boarding School for Teen Girls

You Know That Gem Is Right For Your Daughter Because…


– You want to her be more involved in life and are excited for her to find out what she is truly capable of
– You want her to be in control of her health
– You want her to have the same opportunities as anyone else her age
– You see value in her becoming a leader, developing a mission and helping others through her success

Gem Academy is a solution-based program for adolescent girls that struggle with obesity. The format is that of a boarding high school with a curriculum inclusive of high school general studies, nutrition and culinary, fitness, therapy, community service and experiential learning.

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Call for a Free Admissions Consultation 602-402-5739

So many of our families and students come to us frustrated and scared after trying everything and getting no results that lasted. There are hurt feelings and feelings of guilt or shame in what everyone should have done different. The truth is obesity is a incredibly hard condition to treat effectively without the right information, experience, support and time it actually takes to be successful. We work with the families along with the girls so everyone can find a path to long-term emotional and physical health and the life a Gem student deserves.

Our Nutritional Approach Is Inclusive and Eclectic

We will be working from a data base of the best research from the most prominent and credible names in childhood obesity research. Obesity is not a one size fits all disease and requires a deep knowledge of scientifically sound interventions to match a student’s specific biologic barriers.

We view knowledge as power in the student’s ability to control their environment and empower change. Educating the students in nutrition so they understand food from a nutrient and metabolism perspective helps to establish a “how particular foods help me” perspective. A great deal of time is spent on learning substitutions that help maintain flavor but remove unwanted aspects from food such as sugars and fats. Student will get a multitude of opportunities to go grocery shopping and learn how to read and understand labels.

Be an Agent of Change

To truly be an agent of change in their own life as well as the lives of others our students need to be empowered with the knowledge and skills to make those changes. Culinary instruction helps create autonomy and self sufficiency.

This class dovetails well with the lesson learned in the nutrition class and lets the students apply what they learn by actively utilizing substitutions creating their own recipes and safely working in a kitchen. This is all meant to foster independence and giving the student power in actively working to treat the disease of obesity.

Finding Out what Inspires You

One of the most challenging aspects that students report to “fearing” coming into the transformation process is activity, fitness or exercise; it’s not surprising for the students to have an aversion to this program component. Many have had experiences with not being able to keep up with their peers, not having developed the motor skills to manage movements at their current weight or proportion, and a fear of injury.

Gem Academy approaches activity from a baseline movement perspective of walking. In every activity period of the day, regardless of what the scheduled activity is, walking will always be an option. The American Heart Association, as well as the U.S Surgeon General, uses the 10,000 steps metric as a guideline to follow for improving health and decreasing risk of heart disease. This will be the baseline at Gem Academy as well. Depending on the student’s weight, 10,000 steps burn an additional 400 to 600 calories per day.

Our goal is not to create an athlete out of every student, our goal is to find out what activity each student will enjoy to the point they will continue to do it outside of Gem Academy. This will be done through a wide variety of movement based games, sports, and work with our fitness professionals. While a number of students have gone on to become certified Zumba and Spin instructors, 5 & 10K runners, personal trainers as well as participating in sports at their high school upon their return, we find it necessary to foster the individual in whatever form that takes.

Each student will be working weekly with a NASM certified personal trainer to continue to support and assess the student progress. NASM is the industry leader in personal training certification and has an additional weight loss specialist certification. Gem’s goal is to create a support structure that can be replicated outside of the Academy so we find it necessary that each student knows how to confidently work with a trainer much in the same way they will their Behavioral Coach.

Understanding Your Body

Many students will enter the change process with a long list of frustrations of diets they’ve tried, fads that failed and unsuccessful efforts they have internalized as their own short comings. It is fair to say that a vast majority of young people struggling with weight have a very scant understanding of the disease, it’s real causes, and what, if anything they can do about. We can’t be expected to beat an enemy we don’t understand.

The students will be taught how to move against conjecture and misinformation and that means understanding the condition of obesity as well as why and how obesity affects them down to a cellular level.

This is meant to consistently give our students the understanding of how to modify their behavioral interventions as they reach differing barriers.

Gem is designed to help our students remove themselves from harm’s way in regards to weight related health risks and empower them with a knowledge base and skill set to make them a change agent in their lives and the lives of others. That is our goal for every student and will the basis for recommendation on when it’s time to transition home. The typical stay is about 10-12 months.

Meet the Founder, Jim Hershey

For the last decade Jim has specialized exclusively in therapeutic work with overweight teens and young adults, with an emphasis on immersion programs, long term treatment and aftercare. He has amassed over 5000 hours of direct client work in this specialty putting Jim in a small, exclusive group of clinicians in the world. As a member of the Obesity Action Coalition Jim is a constant advocate and educator regarding the causes of obesity and effective interventions.

Call for a Free Admissions Consultation 602-402-5739