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On June 25, the New York City Strategic Alliance for Health held its first annual Excellence in School Wellness Award Ceremony at NYAM. The event honored fifteen northern Manhattan elementary schools for their commitment to creating environments that promote healthy eating and an active lifestyle.
A project of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the New York City Strategic Alliance for Health aims to make sustainable improvements to the environment, systems, and policies that influence physical activity, nutrition, and tobacco use in East and Central Harlem and the South Bronx. "This project is trying to change the system so that school wellness can be part of the fabric of every school in the New York metropolitan area," said Javier Lopez, Director of the Alliance. NYAM has been a founding member of the Alliance since its inception in 2008.
Deputy Borough President Rosemonde Pierre-Louis
Deputy Borough President Rosemonde Pierre-Louis presented gold, silver, and bronze awards and honorable mentions to representatives from 15 schools. "We know that in our community there are environmental disparities, but when we bring all these resources together, we can make a difference," she said. "I applaud you for putting the health and wellness of your students as a priority; we know that has a direct correlation to learning."
Four of the schools honored are participants in one of NYAM's Office of School Health Programs’ outreach initiatives, Healthy Eating Acting Living: A School and Community Initiative (HEAL), a coordinated school health approach to obesity prevention made possible through the generous support of the MetLife Foundation. The schools, all of which are located in East Harlem, are Harbor Science and Arts Charter School, Anna M. Short School (PS 146), and The Lexington Academy (PS 72), which received gold awards; and Central Park East II, which received silver.
Angel Perez, Athletic Director at Harbor Science and Arts Charter School, spoke about the culture of unhealthy eating that pervades many schools and described Harbor's strategy of "attacking that culture in very subtle ways." The school offers a comprehensive fitness and dance program, has held healthy cooking events, and has a "no soda" policy, even at staff functions. Mr. Perez and the other recipients noted that their collaboration with NYAM was integral in motivating and building the capacity of the school wellness team to foster change and subsequently impact the health and wellness of their students and school community.
"It is gratifying to see that four schools that have participated in HEAL over the past three years have sustained and expanded their wellness activities in collaboration with the Strategic Alliance for Health and will be recognized today for their outstanding efforts," said Joanne De Simone Eichel, Director of the Office of School Health Programs.
Posted on July 1, 2010
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