My name is Sterling Ta’Bon, and I am the Healthy Schools Manager at Cairn Guidance. I live in Sumter, South Carolina. As a student, I was interested in how building relationships lead to more perspective and outcomes. While growing up in this small military town, I was given opportunities to experiment with the ideas of community cohesiveness and the promotion of self-efficacy. As a son of a public-school principal and grandson of a faith leader, I saw how all sectors of our community should be in active communication with each other to enhance the well-being of children and families.
My passion for community enhancement led me to attend Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina. I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science/Kinesiology and continued my education by earning a Master’s in Public Health. Before taking the job with Cairn Guidance, I was the Project and Outreach Coordinator for the South Carolina Department of Mental Health’s Office of Suicide Prevention. In that role, I had the privilege to develop community-based programs and content regarding trauma and suicide prevention. This included recruiting community members, facilitating training the trainer’s events and webinars, and hosting community exhibits to promote the principle that all can play a role in being a trauma-informed community. I find myself gravitating towards community-based participatory research and efforts to use cross-sectional community relationships to produce positive outcomes in lifestyles.
As a son of a public-school principal and grandson of a faith leader, I saw how all sectors of our community should be in active communication with each other to enhance the well-being of children and families.
Since 2016, I have led a youth-focused organization in memory of our high school teammate Erick R. White. This 501c3 organization centers its energy on providing community engagement and peer mentorship programs. The Diamond-Stackz Classic Organization uses an annual 14-team Men’s basketball tournament and Women’s All-Star game to promote community cohesiveness and youth engagement. This event brings in vendors such as Faded Barbershop which offers free haircuts to local community members and Sumter’s League of Women’s Voters which helps participants and spectators register to vote. All proceeds received support families and students through leadership curricula and skills-based activities in the community.
I left my previous job to work with Cairn Guidance because I noticed that not only do we need to be grass-rooted in health equity but also the principles at the grass-root level need to be rooted in good soil to prosper. As a Healthy Schools Manager, I see ourselves connecting with schools, government entities, non-profits, health systems, and community organizations to enact system change and evidence-based strategies to advance the dual goal of health and learning. In this role, we look to enhance the soil, the system in which our grassroots are anchored. Examples of our soil enhancement can be seen in providing districts with a comprehensive health index or efforts by community organizations to simulate opportunities to shift their environment using System Thinking; System Changing Simulation provided by Cairn Guidance.
I find my excitement stems from the ability to provide our frontline warriors for progress – educators and community champions with the tools needed to equip student’s ability to be successful. The implementation of projects like Shine Line on Depression or Cairn’s Whole Child strategy called Blaze Approach, brings awareness and active steps to upholding components to a better quality of life in communities.