HW Pick: Building A Culture of Health From Harlem To Hollis

April 21, 2016

Building A Culture of Health From Harlem To HollisActive kids mean a healthier city. Today Advocate Community Providers (ACP) and Get Focused, two local organizations committed to improving population health citywide, announced a partnership to combat health challenges such as obesity and diabetes, that plague underserved communities like Harlem.

The joint campaign – “Get Focused on Reading” – launches a series of community book fairs across New York’s public school system to empower students to “purchase” their favorite books by completing fitness challenges guided by certified trainers. The free initiative seeks to promote healthy minds and bodies through reading, exercising and eating well.

Get Focused is a nonprofit dedicated to educating youth about the lifelong benefits of healthy living. ACP is a network of 2,000 independent physicians that serves over 650,000 Medicaid patients citywide, particularly Latinos, Asians and African Americans. The day’s launch event at P.S. 239 in Ridgewood, Queens and the continued series will encourage kids and parents to develop the healthy habits needed to improve total community wellbeing.

“Diabetes and obesity are not only serious illnesses that disproportionately affect underserved communities, they are major financial burdens on our health care system,” said Moisés Pérez-Martínez, Director of Workforce, Community & Government Relations, ACP. “At a time when the city is working to transform health care delivery to achieve improved care, better health outcomes and reduced costs, innovative initiatives and partnerships such as this are critical to our collective success. ACP is thrilled to partner with Get Focused, and we look forward to the work ahead.”

At the event, students can shop from over 1,000 donated books, while parents can speak directly with local ACP network physicians for any health-related questions.

“As a local physician, I see the detrimental effects that poor health has on our community’s overall health status,” said Dr. Jesus Pichardo, ACP network pediatrician. “In order to stop this growing epidemic, we must get to the root of the socioeconomic barriers that perpetuate these health conditions, like access to healthy food and limited exposure to health education.“

ACP and Get Focused are targeting neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of severe health conditions to address the racial and ethnic disparities that many low-income and minority communities face. Free fruit, beverages and other nutritious options are also available at the on-site “healthy cafés” to introduce healthy diets.

“The purpose of the ‘Get Focused on Reading’ campaign is to instill the power and knowledge of reading, exercise and community service into our youth and catalyze a movement in New York’s most unhealthy neighborhoods,” said Goldin Martinez, founder of Get Focused. “Since our establishment in 2009, Get Focused has completed over two dozen free programs and events, impacting nearly 50,000 youth and we are excited to further our impact with the support of Advocate Community Providers.”

ACP and Get Focused will host 12 events in the next three months across New York boroughs.

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