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Press Release

Release Date: March 14, 2019

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

  • Erica Sun

Two efforts designed to foster awareness of healthy lifestyle choices are planned for the Tishomingo, Oklahoma, area.

A “Healthy Living with Diabetes Conference” sponsored by the Johnston County Diabetes Coalition, is scheduled for Saturday, April 6, in Murray State College’s Student Center from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The public is invited. There is no charge for admission.

Erica Sun, Tishomingo Schools HealthCorps coordinator, is the event’s chairperson. Sun says registration is required to reserve a place for lunch. Interested participants may register by calling the Johnston County OSU Extension office at 580-371-9533 or by visiting

“It’s not just for people with diabetes, but those who live with someone with diabetes, maybe think they’re on the border for getting diabetes, or want to know more about diabetes,” Sun said.

Participants will include Family Health Center of Southern Oklahoma (FHCSO), Lighthouse Behavioral Health, Mercy Hospital, Chickasaw Nation Nutrition Services, OSU Extension Service doing food demonstrations, Murray State Occupational Therapy students, Johnston County Health Department, and more.

“A behavioral health panel from FHCSO will conduct one of three breakout sessions,” Sun said. “Health providers as well as therapists will discuss challenges of diabetes on the family and how family members can be supportive of those with the disease.

“Our goal is to provide resources,” she said. “Our theme this year follows that of the American Diabetes Association’s ‘In it Together.’ It’s about how we support the family together because it really is a disease that’s best managed when the family is supportive and exercising and eating together.”

Sun will also host a health fair for students Monday, April 29, at Tishomingo High School’s gymnasium from 9 to noon. She said it is designed to create awareness at an early age of the benefits of making healthy lifestyle choices following HealthCorps three pillars of wellness: physical activity, nutrition and mental resilience.

HealthCorps is a 501 (c) (3) organization founded in 2003 by Dr. Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and attending physician at New York Presbyterian-Columbia Medical Center.

HealthCorps’ mission “to unleash the power of America’s youth so they can live productive lives” is sponsored locally by the Chickasaw Nation in Tishomingo, Latta, Kingston, Byng and Davis public schools.

Sun’s maternal grandmother is a full blood Oneida Indian and her great uncle formerly served as tribal chief of the Oneida Nation of the Thames, located in Ontario, Canada. She says her Indian heritage played a significant role in moving from her home state of Michigan to Southern Oklahoma.

“I don’t know that I would have accepted this position if it weren’t for the Chickasaw and the opportunity to give back,” she said. “I came here and was very excited for the school experience, and I love it.”

As it turns out, health care is almost as much a part of her genetic makeup as her Oneida Indian heritage.

“My mom is a registered dietician,” Sun said. “She also loves pediatrics, and has invested her career mostly in diabetic management or early onset diabetes education. My aunt is a pharmacist and another aunt does medical coding. We’ve always had medical backgrounds in our family.”

Sun earned her Master of Science in Exercise Physiology from Eastern Michigan University. Before that she earned a Bachelor of Individualized Studies in Dance, Psychology, & Life Science degree from the University of Minnesota.

Sun is in her fourth year as Tishomingo Schools HealthCorps coordinator.

She says mental resilience is her personal favorite of HealthCorps’ pillars of wellness. “It’s inevitable in life that you will have confrontations and things you need to work through.”

She said her approach is to teach students to examine the underlying causes of their anger or upset reactions. “Are there other feelings going on? What’s my underlying feeling first, and two, how do I communicate that to someone?

“I think those are important life skills to learn.”

Sun said today’s students are grappling with issues not dreamed about even a decade ago, some of it associated with the advent of social media.

“Students are flooded with social media. They start comparing their lives to those around them and that adds to the struggles they already face. It challenges their self-worth and their self-esteem. They are very much defined by what they see around them.”

She said healthy lifestyle choices should focus on a 90-percent rule.

“Some say, ‘I like my sweet tea and I’m not going to give it up.’ My question to them is, ‘What are you doing 90 percent of the time? Successful athletes are defined by what they do consistently, i.e., 90 percent of the time. What are you doing with your 90 percent?’”

Sun says persuasion and encouragement work better than coercion and dogma in effecting change. The letter “r” fell off a “HealthCorp” sign on the front of her desk at Tishomingo High School, which unfortunately left it reading “HealthCop.” She quickly covered it up.

“I’m not a health cop,” she said, laughing. “That is not the goal. I work with students to help achieve better health outcomes they agree to try to make.”

Last Updated: 09/16/2016