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The Office of School Health Programs (OSHP) provides a wide range of comprehensive health education programs to public school teachers, administrators, school staff and nurses, parents, and students in New York City and school districts nationally. The goal of these programs is to help students develop the skills, attitudes, and knowledge needed to lead and maintain healthy lives. OSHP also supports the role of schools as essential community health resources, works with community partners to integrate health promotion into community-based organizations, and builds bridges and pathways to public health, medicine, and the health professions.
G.I.R.L.S. (Getting into Real Life Science) and the Health Professions is designed to increase the participation of historically underrepresented minority women (African-American, Hispanic, and Native American) in careers in the sciences, medicine, health, and allied health professions. The program offers girls, grades 7-9, in New York City public schools a wide range of after-school academic support and enrichment. Among its many innovative features are exploration of health careers, mentoring experiences with minority women health professionals, practice with non-academic competencies, and development of 21st century life skills. The program builds the participants’ capacity to participate in NYAM’s Junior Fellows Program beginning in grade eight and Scholars Program in grade nine.
The Junior Fellows Program, a partnership with New York City public schools and regional academic medical centers, is designed to stimulate middle and high school students’ interest in public health, science, medicine, and research. It advances students’ skills in using technology-based educational resources, identifying strategies for improving health and preventing illness, and understanding the research process and the nature of scientific inquiry. The program engages Junior Fellows in project-based learning, works to enhance their critical-thinking skills, and helps them foster positive interactions with practicing physicians and health professionals. Alumni who have successfully completed the program are invited to participate in NYAM’s Scholars Program as they move into high school and beyond.
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Through Healthy Eating Active Living: A School and Community Initiative, NYAM worked with teachers and administrators in New York City public schools to establish environments and habits that promote improved nutrition and increased physical activity. The program provided a series of educational experiences and school-wide health promotion activities that involved school staff, parents and caregivers, and children. Each school created an interdisciplinary School Wellness Council responsible for making school policy and environmental changes and implementing locally developed school-wide health promotion and obesity prevention activities. Professional development for teachers providef skills and strategies for classroom-based health education and obesity prevention activities. Workshops for parents and caregivers integratef nutrition and fitness activities with other relevant physical, mental, and emotional health topics to address issues that are often associated with obesity and diabetes.
NYAM's award-winning skin health program, developed in partnership with the American Skin Association, has been implemented at 50 sites, reaching more than 5.6 million K-12 students across the country. NYAM provided each school with curriculum, staff development, consultation, and technical assistance. The curriculum includes lessons on the structure and function of skin, sun safety, acne, tattooing and body piercing, and skin disorders and diseases, as well as take-home materials for students, parents, and families. It is developmentally appropriate, skills-based, culturally sensitive, and aligns with national health education standards. Teacher training workshops conducted in collaboration with a local dermatologist have prepared teachers to teach the curriculum as part of comprehensive health education.
OSHP has assisted Union Settlement Association (USA) in East Harlem to build USA staff capacity to implement their Teen Health Program, a comprehensive teen pregnancy prevention program funded by New York State. OSHP provided professional development for staff to help them integrate sexual literacy with youth leadership and community engagement. The broad goals of the Teen Health Program are to promote healthy sexual behaviors and reduce the practice of risky sexual behaviors; ensure access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare and family planning services; provide support and alternatives to sexual activity, including opportunities for leadership; and work with partners and participants to develop a coordinated community plan to reduce teen pregnancy, STIs and HIV/AIDS rates in East Harlem.
OSHP worked with the NYC Strategic Alliance for Health (SAfH) to develop an Implementation Guidebook, a comprehensive resource designed to help other communities replicate the strategies used by the SAfH promote school compliance with school wellness policies in the NYC public elementary schools through the Excellence in School Wellness Award. A project of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the SAfH aims to make sustainable improvements to the environment, systems, and policies that influence physical activity, nutrition, and tobacco use in East and Central Harlem, the South Bronx and Brooklyn. Through its coalition, SAfH is working to help elementary schools assess their progress in meeting 16 specific NYC Department of Education nutrition, physical education, and wellness policies. The change strategy developed by SAfH includes providing schools with the opportunity to be publically recognized for their progress through the Excellence in School Wellness Award. The Implementation Guidebook developed by OSHP will become an online resource published by CDC for schools nationally to use.
NYAM collaborated with United Neighborhood Houses of New York (UNH) to develop and implement a program at 16 UNH-member agencies in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn. This program was designed to improve the skills of staff members at UNH member-agencies who work with early adolescents to promote healthy eating and physical activity to reduce the risk of obesity, address issues of healthy sexuality and relationships, and promote mental and emotional health including stress management. Program components included curriculum development, a series of professional development training workshops and reconvening sessions, implementation by the member agencies at after-school sites, and on-site consultation and technical assistance. UNH is a membership organization of settlement houses and community centers in New York City founded in 1919 to unify the settlement houses’ collective efforts to achieve social reform and to provide a voice for New York’s low-income residents.
NYAM was chosen as one of five organizations to collaborate with the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, NYC Service, and the New York City Department of Education on the development and implementation of a pilot program, Middle School Mentoring Initiative (MSMI). The program recruited and trained mentors and was designed to promote students’ academic achievement, health, and goal setting development in middle schools in the South Bronx. NYAM tailored its initiative with a health theme, incorporating topics on key youth risk behaviors that undermine health, academic success, and social development.
The NYAM Office of School Health Programs provides customized evidence-based programs to help all students in grades K-12 develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to lead healthy lives and succeed in school. OSHP works closely with administrators, teachers and interdisciplinary school staff to: