Spreading the Health
Local physician’s foundation is meeting the varied needs of at-risk youth.
Dr. Kya R. Robottom, founder of the Robottom Foundation, is also the owner of Ideal Health New Orleans. Through both ventures, she seeks to encourage New Orleanians of all ages to make informed, healthy choices.
IN 2014, NATIVE NEW ORLEANIAN KYA R. Robottom was returning home on a plane from Chicago, where she had lived and practiced obstetrics and gynecology for many years, when she met a young family of five.
“They had two girls and a boy,” she said, “and the children were so mature and composed for their ages. I was so impressed by them. They took such good care of themselves. It made me think that we in New Orleans need to do a better job sending children out into the world and I wanted to do something to help.”
Robottom knew that many families in the inner city lacked resources and decided it was time to use her passion as an advocate for health and wellness to help. With the help of her family, she began the Robottom Foundation in 2017 with the goal of educating area youth on topics including fitness, health, nutrition and wellness.
Health is a topic Robottom knows well. She is the owner of Ideal Health New Orleans, a clinic in Lakeside that provides health and wellness consulting to clients who wish to make healthy changes including fitness and weight loss. She frequently advises clients on topics like calorie consumption, making positive food choices and how to manage insulin and maximize nutrition. These are some of the things she also shares with Robottom’s mentees.
“The desired outcome is to predictably give our young people options for better and optimal health and wellness in adulthood,” she said, noting that wellness is about more than just a healthy body.
The Robottom Foundation works with about 75 youth and children ages 5 through 17 in and around the Greater New Orleans area every year. Robottom is currently partnered with two high schools, Warren Easton and New Harmony, where she works with school guidance counselors to identify at-risk kids.
For some, the needs are as simple as providing a backpack — the organization holds a backpack drive every August. For others, one-on-one mentoring or seminars are utilized, all through the work of volunteers. Over the past three years, about 50 people have volunteered with the foundation.
“Penny Hamilton, of Fidelity Bank, hosted a financial wellness educational session to some mentees,” said Robottom. “Her session introduced financial literacy language, i.e. ‘savings,’ ‘net worth’” and so on. Mentees who participated in the session were able to open a special bank account at Fidelity Bank with no monthly fees.
One-on-one mentoring is a large part of the Robottom Foundation’s work. Mentors meet with students once a week to provide not just guidance on healthy choices, but financial, intellectual, spiritual, social, environmental and emotional help. Educational workshops are also conducted periodically at public places like area libraries and offices.
“I’ve had the privilege of being a mentor for The Robottom Foundation on six occasions and it has been invaluable,” said retired pharmacist Annetta M. Walker. “I quickly learned the difference between being a role model, having knowledge and having the ability to impart it in a transforming way.”
Besides the seminars, the foundation has offered a variety of special events for mentees, including its first children’s fair in 2018, which included a kid-friendly mix of food, smoothies, information, health screenings and karaoke.
Robottom has also formed what she calls “Club Robottom,” — gatherings of students at New Harmony and Warren Easton high schools that participate in service projects. One group of mentees from Warren Easton High School cooked dinner for the families at The Ronald McDonald House.
She said the power of mentoring can lie in the simplest things. One of her fondest memories is when she helped a young man learn how to tie his tie.
“He’d never had someone show him how to do it,” she said. “He was so appreciative of this one simple thing. I believe small acts of generosity inspire more small acts of generosity, which creates the society in which we all want to live.”
To educate, engage, and exemplify better and optimal health and wellness to children aged 5 through 17.
HOW BUSINESSES AND INDIVIDUALS CAN HELP
Consider volunteering as a mentor. Teach a life skill at a seminar. Participate in the annual August backpack drive.
NEXT BIG FUNDRAISER
The Robottom Foundation’s Annual Founder’s Day Gala is held in the beginning of October to raise money for scholarships. Last year’s event included dinner, dancing, a silent auction and 50/50 raffle.
Dr. Kya Robottom (888) 406-6595 firstname.lastname@example.org