Healthfirst and American Heart Association Fight Childhood Obesity With Teaching Gardens Program in The Bronx
PS 55 Students Learn About Healthy Eating Through Hands-On Gardening
NEW YORK, NY, May 24, 2013 – Healthfirst and the American Heart Association launch the second annual American Heart Association Teaching Gardens Program at PS 55 in the South Bronx, NY. The educational initiative teaches children how to plant seeds, nurture growing plants, harvest produce and ultimately understand the value of good eating habits.
On Saturday, June 1st from 10:00am – 1:00pm, PS 55 students will celebrate the official Teaching Gardens Plant Day with a health festival open to the public on school grounds. Children in attendance will participate in a host of activities including free face painting, vegetable tastings, physical fitness classes, arts and crafts. A special ceremony will be followed by PS 55 students planting seeds in the garden that will harvest in early fall.
A main goal of the initiative is to reduce childhood obesity rates while instilling in children the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. A study by The New York City Department of Mental Health and Hygiene found that in the South Bronx, nearly one in four children in public elementary schools is obese and nearly four in ten are overweight or obese1. The PS 55 Healthfirst and American Heart Association Teaching Garden combines nutrition education with garden-based learning to promote the consumption of more fruits and vegetables by children. Studies show programs like this encourage healthy behavior and lead to positive attitudes towards healthier eating.
“The response from PS 55 students on their first Harvest Day last year when they actually saw and ate the vegetables they planted and nurtured was priceless,” said Susan Beane, MD, Healthfirst Vice President and Medical Director. “We are proud to continue the Teaching Gardens program in the Bronx to make a true difference in reducing childhood obesity and ultimately achieve better health outcomes in the community.”
The garden is dedicated to Megan Charlop, a veteran public health advocate and Director of Community Health at Montefiore Medical Center’s School Health Program, who was killed in a tragic cycling accident in 2010. A beloved community organizer in the area, Megan was actually on her way to PS 55 the day of the accident to attend a summer camp school fair, one of the many projects she spearheaded for local children to experience. Her passion was to improve the health and well-being of Bronx residents, especially children, through fitness and improved nutrition.
Established in 1993, Healthfirst is a not-for-profit managed care organization that offers low or no-cost health insurance to eligible individuals and families living in the New York metropolitan area and New Jersey. It provides a variety of government-sponsored health insurance programs, including New York State's Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus, and Medicaid, as well as Medicare Advantage. The Healthfirst family of companies includes Healthfirst in New York, Healthfirst NJ in New Jersey, and Senior Health Partners (SHP), a managed long term care plan serving Medicaid-eligible clients in New York City. For more information, visit the company's websites at www.healthfirst.org and www.healthfirstnj.org.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit www.heart.org
1. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Epidemiology Services. Obesity in the South Bronx. http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/dpho/dpho-bronx-obesity.pdf.
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