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NYAM is working with teachers and administrators in New York City public schools to establish environments and habits that promote improved nutrition and increased physical activity through Healthy Eating Active Living: A School and Community Initiative (HEAL). The program is currently in place at nine schools in East Harlem and the Bronx, where students, teachers, and parents alike are learning to make healthier choices a habit.
At Harbor Science & Arts Charter School in East Harlem, for example, all 200 students in grades 1-5 participate in a 10-minute movement activity every day. In the cafeteria, sugary cereals have been replaced with healthier breakfast options, and students have input in designing the monthly menu. At staff and parent meetings, water and 100% fruit juices are now served instead of soda.
At each HEAL school, teachers learn skills and strategies for classroom-based health education and obesity prevention activities, and parents and caregivers attend workshops that integrate nutrition and fitness activities with other relevant physical, mental and emotional health topics. A School Wellness Council, an interdisciplinary school-community team, is created to be responsible for making school policy and environmental changes and implementing school-wide health promotion and obesity prevention activities. This year’s activities have included weekly Zumba classes for parents and staff and a food, culture and fitness fair to celebrate Black History Month.
In 2010, four HEAL schools received Excellence in School Wellness Awards from the NYC Strategic Alliance for Health, honoring them for their commitment to creating environments that promote healthy eating and an active lifestyle. Harbor Science and Arts Charter School, Anna M. Short School (PS 146), and The Lexington Academy (PS 72) received gold awards, and Central Park East II received silver.
Central Park East II continues to maintain healthy snack policies and provide nutrition education and food tasting opportunities for the students, as well as monthly parent nutrition education classes. Students get recess before lunch, and they have healthy snacks available throughout the day. Additionally, the school holds monthly meetings of the School Food Partnership to discuss and improve the nutrition and food availability at the school.
“We love the Healthy Eating Active Living program,” said Naomi Smith, Principal of Central Park East II. “Parent, teacher and student education all wrapped up in one package. What could be a smarter way to provide tools of healthy living to a family?”
“We are appreciative of the support given in helping to promote health and wellness to our staff and school community members,” echoed Antonio Hernandez, Principal of PS 72.Print Subscribe
Posted on April 13, 2011
Andrew J. Martin
Director of Communications
The New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10029
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