Boarding School for Overweight Teen Girls, Gem Academy, to Open in Scottsdale, July

It was announced today that the nation's first solution-based treatment program exclusively devoted to helping obese high school aged girls change their lives will open in July in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Gem is an acronym that stands for Gratitude, Empathy and Mission - the program's core values. "Our goal is to empower our students to achieve in not just their weight and health, but in all aspects of their life including academically, interpersonally and as advocates to empower others".

Gem Academy is a small boarding school with a high school curriculum that also encompasses immersive curricula in nutrition, culinary, fitness, counseling, volunteerism and experiential learning. Gem Academy is now enrolling girls grades 9-12 who are at least 30 pounds overweight and who may have co-occurring issues related to their weight. "With 80% of overweight young women becoming overweight or obese adults, Gem represents a final point of intervention for most", says Founder and Executive Director of Gem, Jim Hershey.

Hershey is one of the experts in the field and former clinical director of the only prior program to offer comparable treatment for both adolescent boys and girls, Academy of the Sierras, which was featured on Dateline NBC, Dr. Phil, and on the Style Network television program "Too Fat for 15."

"I was fortunate enough to be a part of the program that pioneered immersive treatment for adolescent obesity," said Hershey, "and even though that program sadly no longer exists, the lessons learned and the experience of nearly 1,000 students have provided the basis for establishing Gem's effective interventions for young women."

The therapeutic program at Gem Academy incorporates every major concept and technique demonstrated by research to be effective in treating excess weight in adolescents. These techniques, conducted in individual and group sessions, help students develop the skills and behavior they need to master long-term weight control. Gem's therapeutic program also taps into the latest research in the fields of skill acquisition, habit formation, motivation, perseverance, grit, delayed gratification and mindfulness practices.

"There is no more effective intervention than an immersive environment," said Hershey. "Immersion in a healthy culture allows Gem students to modify behaviors in a supportive way and empower themselves to control the same variables in their home environment." Gem also has plans for a high-school age boys program as well as a young adult program.

While many efforts are aimed toward elementary and middle school aged children, programs for high school age students are few.

To learn more about Gem Academy visit or call (602) 402-5739.

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

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