Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bronx CAN health initiative hosts healthy holiday party and toy giveaway

Bronx CAN Health Initiative partners, together with Senator Gustavo Rivera, hosted a healthy holiday party and toy-giveaway sponsored by Montefiore Medical Center and the Bronx Chamber of Commerce on Sun., December 18th at the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center. The gifts included athletic-related gifts such as basketballs, to continue to promote health through physical fitness and sports as part of Senator Rivera’s on-going health initiative.
“On Sunday, I was able to speak to hundreds of Bronxites about their commitment to staying healthy, and more importantly, to more than 100 kids who attended the holiday party, ate some healthy snacks and received toys that were donated by Montefiore Medical Center and the Bronx Chamber of Commerce,” said Senator Gustavo Rivera.
Senator Rivera was joined by Dr. Peter Selwyn from Montefiore Medical Center to hand out gifts to the kids who attended Sunday’s Bronx CAN Health Initiative holiday party.

Rivera, Bronx CAN host healthy holiday party

State Sen. Gustavo Rivera and his Bronx CAN Health Initiative partners hosted a healthy holiday party and toy-giveaway sponsored by Montefiore Medical Center and the Bronx Chamber of Commerce on Sunday, Dec. 18 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center. The gifts included athletic-related gifts such as basketballs, to continue to promote health through physical fitness and sports as part of Rivera’s on-going health initiative.

“On Sunday, I was able to thank many of the wonderful Bronx CAN Health Initiative partners that I have been working with over the past six months to promote healthy lifestyle choices in the Bronx,” Rivera said. “I was able to speak to hundreds of Bronxites about their commitment to staying healthy, and more importantly, to more than 100 kids who attended the holiday party, ate some healthy snacks and received toys that were donated by Montefiore Medical Center and the Bronx Chamber of Commerce.”

Rivera was joined by Dr. Peter Selwyn from Montefiore Medical Center to hand out gifts to the kids who attended Sunday’s Bronx CAN Health Initiative holiday party.

“Biggest Losers” in The Bronx: obesity rates drop for schoolchildren

From The Bronx Free Press
Tiana Moronta, 11, said at first it was hard to change old eating habits.

But, much to her surprise, she discovered that she liked eating broccoli and asparagus.

“I know how to control myself and eat different kinds of foods that are healthy for me,” said the sixth grader.

Moranta and her P.S./I.S. 218 classmates are the beneficiaries of citywide initiatives that have led to a decrease in childhood obesity.

Since 2007, obesity rates have declined by 5.5 percent in New York City public school children ages 5 – 14.

The decline translates into 6,500 fewer obese kids.

The biggest decrease was in children ages 5-6, with a ten percent drop in obesity.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, together with Borough President Ruben Diaz, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and other city administration officials, announced the news at their school on Thurs., Dec. 15th.

Appropriately enough, the Mayor made the announcement at the school cafeteria salad bar.

“If you can stop children from becoming obese,” Bloomberg said, “then there is a greater chance they will not be obese as adults.”

According to the report issued, this marks the biggest decline in childhood obesity reported to date by any large city in the country, and is particularly a contrast to the stagnant nationwide rates. The declining rates were measured through NYC FITNESSGRAM, a fitness assessment and reporting program for New York City youth in kindergarten through twelfth grade.

Mayor Bloomberg touted the collaborative efforts of the City Council on the healthy living intiatives, pointing specifically to the work of Councilmember Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Chair of the Health Committee and Councilmember Robert Jackson, Chair of the Education Committee.

Yet one in every five school children remains obese. Black and Hispanic children also suffer from higher obesity rates than their white and Asian peers.

According to the study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the biggest decline, 12.5 percent, was for white children. The decline for Asian children was 7.6 percent. Obesity rates for Hispanic children declined by 3.4 percent and black children’s rates declined by 1.9 percent.

Borough President Diaz said that even though there was much work still to be done, rates were going in the right direction. If the city has beautiful schools, parks and buildings, but its citizens aren’t healthy, the Borough President said, none of that matters.

“We do this for the future,” Diaz said.

Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said the decline comes after a relentless rise in American obesity rates. But the disease is still driving a twin epidemic of diabetes.

“It’s never a child’s fault if he’s obese,” Farley said. “Obesity happens when a child lives in an environment where it’s too easy to consume too many calories.”

The mayor said improved cafeteria food was one main reason for the decline. Deep fried foods were eliminated and replaced with fresh fruits, vegetables and salad bars. Low fat milk and water were substituted for sugary drinks.

Principal Leticia Rosario the school’s salad bar was very popular with students. The school also implemented programs for parents, offering exercise classes and a 10-week program on cooking, shopping and selecting health foods.

Children are also getting more exercise and eating healthier snacks.

“If this is just starting,” said principal Leticia Rosario, “I can only imagine what’s going to happen five years down the road.”

Cahira Echavarria, 11, told the mayor and elected officials that eating vegetables are better for you. After the press conference, she confided that programs fighting obesity were personally important to her.

“My seven-year sister is obese,” she said. “I wouldn’t want anything happening to her.”
To read the CDC’s obesity study, here is a link: http://tinyurl.com/bmlgyub
And to hear directly how Borough President Ruben Diaz helps his own family control their food portions, including “Abuelita,” please visit here: http://tinyurl.com/borvhqw

To hear the ways Tiana Moronta, 11, is adopting healthier nutritional habits, and who is helping, visit here: http://tinyurl.com/cmlasya

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bronx CAN Healthy Holiday Party & Toy Drive

Bronx CAN Healthy Holiday Party & Toy Giveaway

Sunday, November 20, 2011

¿Se puede ser boricua y comer bien?

José Acosta/EDLP | 2011-11-18 | El Diario NY

NUEVA YORK — La primera vez que el chef Denis Williams le cocinó a los estudiantes de la escuela Marc Academy de El Bronx, muchos de ellos, al ver la comida, le dijeron: "Yo no como eso".

El chef les preguntó la razón y todos respondieron: "Porque mi mamá no me da eso en casa".

Williams, quien lleva 35 años como chef del programa culinario de South Bronx Job Corps, dijo que al evaluar a aquellos estudiantes comprendió que primero hay que convencer a los padres de preparar comidas saludables antes que convencer a los niños.

Y, según explicó el maestro de cocina, "se puede mantener el terreno, pero cambiando de juego", queriendo significar que los latinos pueden seguir comiendo su comida tradicional (pernil asado, arroz con guadules, plátanos fritos), pero preparándola de un modo saludable.

Durante un acto de celebración de la Herencia Puertorriqueña, llamado: "¿Podemos ser puertorriqueños y comer saludable?, encabezado por el senador estatal Gustavo Rivera y realizado en la Marc Academy, el chef dio una demostración a un grupo de madres de escuela de que se pueden preparar los mismos sabrosos platos tradicionales, pero con menos grasa y más verduras.

"Por ejemplo, en vez de hornear un pernil con la enorme cantidad de grasa que tiene, podemos cocinarlo sin el cuero, que contiene toda la grasa, y esta grasa podemos sustituirla por los sabores, marinándolo por un par de días con cilantro, ajo, culantro, y quedará igual de sabroso", dijo Williams. "Debemos cocinar menos cantidad de arroz, completándola con verduras, de un modo que ni los niños van a saber que la verdura está en el arroz", señaló.

El senador estatal Gustavo Rivera —quien lanzó este año la Iniciativa de Salud El Bronx CAN (Cambiar Actitudes Ahora) para combatir la obesidad y quien se puso como ejemplo, cambió sus hábitos alimenticios y bajó 22 libras de peso—, dijo que "se pueden hacer celebraciones comiendo saludable".

"Vamos a demostrar que podemos preparar la misma comida a la que estamos acostumbrados, pero tomando unas decisiones en la preparación que la hacen más saludables, sin tanta grasa, menos sal y menos azúcar", dijo Rivera. "Y eso es lo que queremos mostrarles a las madres, a fin de que lo hagan en casa", agregó.

Rivera dijo que El Bronx es el condado menos saludable en el estado de Nueva York, y solamente en el distrito 33 que él representa, el índice de obesidad está en 68%, "que es extremadamente alto".

La escuela Marc Academy tiene una población escolar de 106 niños de 4 a 5 años de edad y 60 de 5 a 12 años, con un 56% latino. La directora, Ana York, dijo que hay un problema de obesidad en El Bronx "y la mejor manera de celebrar nuestra cultura es cuidándonos a nosotros mismos".

"La mayoría de personas que, debido a la obesidad, está padeciendo de diabetes y enfermedades del corazón es latina", dijo York. "Yo soy puertorriqueña y me gusta la comida de mi país, y no se trata de cambiar el tipo de comida sino el modo en que la preparamos para mejorar la salud", agregó.

Dos de las madres que participaron en la celebración y además de disfrutar la comida aprendieron a prepararla de manera más saludable, fueron Gladys Paredes y Alondra Fuentes.

"A mi hijo Dexter Wilson, de 4 años, que está en el parvulario de la Marc Academy, le encanta el arroz pero le gustan las verduras, de modo que lo que puedo mejorar en mi casa es cocinar con menos grasa y comer porciones más pequeñas", dijo Paredes.

Fuentes dijo que su hijo Aidan López, de 4 años, quien también está en el parvulario de la Marc Academy, le encanta comer a todas horas y para mantenerlo a raya hay que aguantarle la cuchara.

"A mí me interesa el tema de cocinar comida más saludable en casa, porque no quiero que mis hijos crezcan obesos y con problemas de salud", dijo Fuentes.

Podemos preparar la comida a la que estamos acostumbrados, pero sin tanta grasa, menos sal y menos azúcar’.
— Senador Gustavo Rivera

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rivera's health initiative headed to schools and families

By Brendan McHugh – Bronx Press Politics

As the first Bronx CAN Health Initiative winds down, state Senator Gustavo Rivera and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. spent Monday kicking off the new family-oriented initiative in Bronx schools.

Standing for ‘Changing Attitudes Now,’ the CAN initiative encourages Bronxites to eat healthier and work out more. Rivera has joined with Diaz, Montefiore Medical Center and various community groups throughout the Bronx, encouraging children and adults alike to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

"For the last few months, the Bronx CAN Health Initiative has inspired Bronxites to take responsibility over their own health and make changes to their habits in order to lead longer and healthier lives," Rivera said.

Rivera and Diaz attended a celebration of National Food Day on Monday, Oct. 24 at the Academy of Mount St. Ursula, one of several schools in the Bronx that have adopted the Bronx CAN Family Health Challenge.

Jump below for the full story, including a picture of Rivera from June and information about a campaign the NYC health department started today.

The family challenge is an eight-week initiative that asks families and children to make one or two changes every week. It starts off with only drinking milk or water for a week rather than soda or juice and over the next seven weeks, projects range from eating one piece of fruit per day to eating smaller portions to exercising 30 minutes per day.

The guidebook created will reach more than 50 public schools through Montefiore’s school-based health clinics.

"Given that issues of obesity, heart disease and diabetes start with the formation of bad health habits at a young age, I am excited that the Bronx CAN Health Initiative is continuing in Bronx schools,” Rivera said. “It is my hope that the students and families who take on this 8-week challenge will continue to incorporate the lessons they learned as part of the Family Health Challenge into their daily lives."

Rivera weighed in at 299 lbs. in June, and his CAN challenge goal was to lose 15 to 20 lbs. by the end of October. At the event Monday he weighed himself in front of hundreds of teenage girls and came in at 283 lbs.; 16 lbs. down from June.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sen. Rivera and Borough President Diaz celebrate National Food Day

Bronx Free Press

New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. attended a celebration of National Food Day on Mon., Oct. 24th at the Academy of Mount St. Ursula, which is one of several schools in the Bronx that have adopted the Bronx CAN Family Health Challenge.

The Family Health Challenge and the corresponding guidebook that is attached were created through a partnership between SEIU-CIR (SEIU’s Committee of Interns and Residents) and the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center. In addition to the Academy of Mount St. Ursula and other Bronx schools’ participation, the guidebook will be distributed to students at more than 50 public schools through Montefiore Medical Center’s school-based health clinics.

"For the last few months, the Bronx CAN Health Initiative has inspired Bronxites to take responsibility over their own health and make changes to their habits in order to lead longer and healthier lives," said Senator Gustavo Rivera. "Given that issues of obesity, heart disease and diabetes start with the formation of bad health habits at a young age, I am excited that the Bronx CAN Health Initiative is continuing in Bronx schools. It is my hope that the students and families who take on this 8-week challenge will continue to incorporate the lessons they learned as part of the Family Health Challenge into their daily lives."

“The Bronx CAN Family Health Challenge is a perfect example of how members of our Bronx community form partnerships and work together to create great programs that have a large, positive impact on the well-being of the borough. I urge all Bronx students and their families to take on the eight-week Family Health Challenge,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“Montefiore Medical Center is honored and excited to be a partner in this important initiative, which is all about engaging youth and families in making healthy choices,” said Roberto S. Garcia, Senior Director of The Office of Community Relations at Montefiore. “Montefiore continues to be a leader in providing programs and services that enhance the health of all members of our Bronx community.”

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's latest reports, the Bronx continues to be the unhealthiest county in the state of New York, with higher rates of obesity, diabetes and asthma than other parts of the state. In response to this report and to the crisis of obesity and obesity-related diseases, State Senator Rivera and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined with community organizations from throughout the Bronx to launch the Bronx CAN Health Initiative in June of this year.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bronx Celebrates ‘Food Day’ With New School Health Initiative

By Jeanmarie Evelly – Norwood News

Today is officially Food Day in New York City–the first annual government-sponsored day to celebrate “real food and healthy eating,” marked by events across the five boroughs with a focus on nutrition.

In the Bronx this morning, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., and State Sen. Gustavo Rivera were at Mount St. Ursula Academy in Bedford Park to kick off a new health initiative for local schools. The Family Health Challenge, developed alongside the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center and the Committee of Interns and Residents, asks students and their families to set small goals for themselves–cut out soda one week, eat one piece of fruit a day for another–based on the idea that changing one simple habit at a time will, in the long run, lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Under the initiative, Mount St. Ursula students and those at 50 other sites participating in Montefiore’s School Health program, are given different health guidelines to follow each week for eight weeks: only drink water or low-fat milk during week 1; eat a serving of whole grains every day during weeks 4 and 5; eat only home-cooked meals during week 7.

“There are things that we can do every day to be a little healthier,” Rivera said.
The event was the last leg of Rivera’s “Bronx Can Health Initiative,” which he launched last June, challenging Bronxites to set health goals for themselves. The senator’s own goal was to lose 20 pounds by the end of the challenge, an effort he’s been chronicling for the last five months through a series of events and public weigh-ins.

At this morning’s press conference at Mount St. Ursula’s, Rivera removed his shoes in front of an auditorium full of giggling high school girls and stepped on a scale. The verdict? Down 16 pounds from his original weight, just four pounds shy of his mark and five days to go until his deadline of Oct. 29.

“There’s no better way to do it that to set an example myself,” Rivera said.
Borough President Diaz touted his own health accomplishments to the crowd: he’s lost 14 pounds since last December, the result of cutting out soda and going to the gym several times a week.
“If you try to do too much overnight, it can become discouraging,” Diaz said. “It’s about baby steps–it’s about doing things differently.”

Mount St. Ursula senior Nicole Smith, 17, said her first step is to start accompanying her mother to the grocery store to make sure she’s buying fresh fruits and vegetables for the fridge.

“It’s so difficult here in the Bronx,” Smith said. “It’s much easier to just go to McDonald’s and get a $1 cheeseburger.”

Officials Encourage Bronx Students To Have Better Diets

By NY1 News:



[Click on link above for Video Coverage]

Bronx Senator Gustavo Rivera marked National Food Day on Monday by sharing with students in Fordham that eating better helped him lose weight.
Rivera, who weighed 299 pounds in June, has since lost 16 pounds.

He weighed himself during an event at the Academy of Mount St. Ursula.

Rivera began his dieting when the borough started its CAN Health Initiative, teaching residents everyday tricks to stay fit.

"I'm already eating smaller portions, I'm already making sure I drink more water than anything else, and the bottom line is, these are things that I can maintain," said Rivera.

"We want people to know that you can change your attitude, you can change the way you eat, you can change the way you take care of yourself," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

According to the most recent statistics available from the state's Health Department, 68 percent of Bronx adults are overweight or obese, which is the highest rate in the city.

Monday, October 24, 2011

SENATOR RIVERA AND BOROUGH PRESIDENT DIAZ CELEBRATED FOOD DAY AND LAUNCHED BRONX CAN HEALTH INITIATIVE IN BRONX SCHOOLS

Bronx, NY - State Senator Gustavo Rivera (D, WF-Bronx) and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. (D-Bronx) attended a celebration of National Food Day on Monday, October 24 at the Academy of Mount St. Ursula, which is one of several schools in the Bronx that have adopted the Bronx CAN Family Health Challenge. The Family Health Challenge and the corresponding guidebook that is attached were created through a partnership between SEIU-CIR (SEIU’s Committee of Interns and Residents) and the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center. In addition to the Academy of Mount St. Ursula and other Bronx schools’ participation, the guidebook will be distributed to students at more than 50 public schools through Montefiore Medical Center’s school-based health clinics.

"For the last few months, the Bronx CAN Health Initiative has inspired Bronxites to take responsibility over their own health and make changes to their habits in order to lead longer and healthier lives," said Senator Gustavo Rivera. "Given that issues of obesity, heart disease and diabetes start with the formation of bad health habits at a young age, I am excited that the Bronx CAN Health Initiative is continuing in Bronx schools. It is my hope that the students and families who take on this 8-week challenge will continue to incorporate the lessons they learned as part of the Family Health Challenge into their daily lives."

“The Bronx CAN Family Health Challenge is a perfect example of how members of our Bronx community form partnerships and work together to create great programs that have a large, positive impact on the well-being of the borough. I urge all Bronx students and their families to take on the eight-week Family Health Challenge. The lessons they will learn during these eight weeks can really help the members of our community, young and old, to start making healthier decisions as far as what they eat day to day, and can ultimately lead to a healthier lifestyle for Bronxites overall,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“Montefiore Medical Center is honored and excited to be a partner in this important initiative, which is all about engaging youth and families in making healthy choices”, said Roberto S. Garcia, Senior Director of The Office of Community Relations at Montefiore. “Montefiore continues to be a leader in providing programs and services that enhance the health of all members of our Bronx community.”

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's latest reports, the Bronx continues to be the unhealthiest county in the state of New York, with higher rates of obesity, diabetes and asthma than other parts of the state. In response to this report and to the crisis of obesity and obesity-related diseases, State Senator Rivera (D,WF-Bronx) and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined with community organizations from throughout the Bronx to launch the Bronx CAN Health Initiative in June of this year.

As part of the health initiative, Senator Rivera vowed to lose 15 to 20 pounds before the end of October. As of October 24th, Senator Rivera had lost 16 pounds. His last weigh-in will be on October 29, 2011 at 1:30PM for the last of the Bronx CAN Health Initiative's monthly health fairs.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The “CAN” Initiative keeps going strong with Montefiore


By Adrian Cabreja - Bronx Free Press



Any other cool weekend day on which rain threatened at any moment might have kept local park-goers indoors.
But not this past Sun., Sept. 22nd, when the Montefiore Medical Center, together with New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera, hosted the third Bronx CAN Health Initiative “check-in” at the St. James Park’s Recreation Center on Creston Avenue.
The theme of this event, one in an ongoing series, was preventative care.
“Preventative care is very important because it leads to avoidance [of harmful behaviors], and therefore contributes to greater health. Without health, there is no life,” said Roberto S. Garcia, Senior Director of Community Relations at Montefiore Medical Center.
Over a hundred newly developed health enthusiasts, participants of the borough’s CAN Health Initiative, participated in the fair’s “check-in,” highlighting the program’s continued momentum with local residents.
“This is my third check-in, and I’m trying my best to live a better and healthier life. I am committed to it,” said Linda Babea.
The fair offered information and services on proactive measures that could be taken to prevent illness and to help practice a healthier lifestyle. These included HIV testing, nutritional education and blood pressure screenings, all as a means of preventing and identifying common and sometimes dangerous diseases.
The Montefiore Medical Center Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program’s table proved one of the most compelling to many of those present; its colorful displays and materials went quickly.
Montefiore’s WIC program is a government funded preventative care program, which provides supplemental foods and nutrition-related education to low income women, infants and children.
“Educating low-income families in the necessity of good eating habits is key to a healthier Bronx. Good eating habits are a sure way to prevent many cholesterol and weight-related diseases. Our nutritionists at Montefiore teach women and children how to eat better. Along with teaching them what they need to eat, our nutritionists also teach them how much to eat,” explained Nancy Mejias, a representative for Montefiore’s WIC program.
Montefiore’s WIC program also teaches children how to exercise, as the program is part of their WIC Fit Initiative.
The medical center’s School Health Program also made an appearance at the fair. Their display featured common foods and drinks, and corresponding information about each’s sugar and fat content. To many, it was surprising to discover that a glass of Welch’s Grape Juice had more sugar than a glass of Coca-Cola. According to Montefiore’s School Health Program data, Welch’s Grape Juice has 42.5 grams of sugar per glass while Coca-Cola has 38 grams of sugar per glass.
"Many people assume that certain things are healthier than others. This is where information plays a role," said Lynchy Lezeau of the Montefiore School Health Program.
Along with the information and materials provided, the fair was also the backdrop to Senator Rivera’s routine weigh-in. The Bronx Senator had made a vow to lose twenty pounds by October, but has only lost fourteen. Still, Senator Rivera made good on his commitment to the cause, joining the crowd in a Zumba exercise lesson directly after his weigh-in.  
Senator Rivera was also very pleased with the attendance. “I didn't expect so many to come out today,” he said, taking time from his work-out to thank well-wishers on his ongoing weight loss. “I am proud to say that the Bronx community is taking a great interest in their health and that is inspiring.”

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sen. Rivera's Bronx CAN Family Health Challenge Guidebooks

State Senator Gustavo Rivera is launching the Bronx CAN Family Health Challenge - a health challenge designed for students and their families to take on together. Senator Rivera has been partnering with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.and other community partners as part of the Bronx CAN (Change Attitudes Now) Health Initiative. The Bronx CAN Family Health Challenge was designed by the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center and Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR-SEIU). The Family Health Challenge guidebooks will be distributed to schools throughout the district through Montefiore Medical Center's school-based health clinics as well as other participating schools such as Mount St. Ursula, who have taken on the challenge.
Sen. Rivera's Bronx CAN Family Health Challenge Guidebook in English

Sen. Rivera's Bilingual Bronx CAN Family Health Challenge Guidebook

The Making of a Liberal Politician, Part III: Senator Makes Health a Priority

By Alex Kratz - Norwood News


Ed. Note: This is the third and final in a series of articles about 33rd District State Senator Gustavo Rivera, who was thrust into the spotlight after defeating the controversial Pedro Espada, Jr. last fall. Rivera represents the entire Norwood News coverage area.
Gustavo Rivera, a state senator for all of nine months, is comfortably in his element. Sitting at the head of a table in a cramped, windowless room deep inside the belly of The Family Health Center on East 193rd Street and Decatur Avenue, Rivera is asking questions and cracking jokes.
“Five different flavors of pork rinds,” Rivera offers as the conversation turns to nutritional options at local bodegas.
Later, he asks about the Center’s Friday food demonstrations and asks if they can help him be a better cook. “I burn water,” he says, and everyone in the room — a conglomeration of public relations specialists, reporters, photographers and Center staffers — laughs. He’s a hit. If politics doesn’t work out for the 33rd district representative, he could make a run at “Last Comic Standing.” (Plus, the multi-talented, 34-year-old Puerto Rican native can sing. Check him out on youtube.)
The Bronx CAN
But for now, Rivera’s more interested in becoming “The Biggest Loser.” The health initiative he launched with the help of the borough president’s office, Montefiore Medical Center and St. Barnabas Hospital — called the Bronx CAN (Changing Attitudes Now) Health Initiative — is based partly on the model of the popular reality television series where obese people compete to see who can lose the most weight. Rivera wants Bronxites to live healthier lives and set healthy goals, like losing weight.
He dedicated his summer to the initiative and, at the same time, his own health. In June, Rivera publically weighed himself in at an NFL-lineman-like 299 pounds and vowed to lose 20 pounds by the end of October. He also vowed not to employ any gimmicky diets or hire a personal trainer.
“I wanted to do it in a way that’s sustainable,” says Rivera.
That means doing everything in moderation and making healthier choices, he says. Smaller portions, less fat, less sugar, more exercise. That’s why he’s doing weekly community walks (look, you don’t need a gym to be fit!) and making appearances at local farmer’s markets (look, right here in your neighborhood, there are alternatives to pork rinds!).
With a month to go, he’s six pounds from his goal. Soon he’ll be more linebacker than lineman.
Rivera didn’t come into office this past January expecting to be the most active and outspoken health advocating elected official in the Bronx. It just made sense, much like his decision to run for office last year after spending a decade running campaigns for other politicians.
For one, he’s the only Bronx representative on the senate health committee. Secondly, according to a recent report, the Bronx is the unhealthiest of all New York’s 62 counties. Something needed to be done, he said. And now, Rivera calmly answers questions about his morning workout routine (mostly cardio, some circuit training, four or five days a week) and what he eats for breakfast (egg and veggie wrap).
A Quick Study
In his first year in office, Rivera is obviously still learning. But his previous experience in Albany (as chief of staff for Andrea Stewart-Cousins and the Democratic Conference, among other jobs) and academia (by all accounts, he possess strong study habits and an earnest curiosity) have helped.
Liz Krueger, a senate colleague from Manhattan who helped recruit Rivera into running last year against Pedro Espada, speaks glowingly about the rookie’s precociousness on the senate floor.
“I have colleagues in the senate who have been there for years who are not as comfortable speaking about bills on the floor [as Rivera is],” Krueger said in a phone interview. “The etiquette and the language isn’t easy. Gustavo has shifted gears so quickly and gracefully.”
As a lawmaker, Rivera started his career off with a symbolic nod to his predecessor, controversial lightning rod Pedro Espada — introducing a bill that would require legislators to disclose all outside income. (Espada, who founded a network of nonprofit healthcare centers, was cagey about disclosing his compensation outside of politics. He is now under indictment for embezzling funds from his network and is scheduled to stand trial early next year.) Much of the language from that bill was folded into a larger ethics reform package put together by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo that became law last spring.
Rivera sponsored six other pieces of legislation relating to everything from labor (allowing substitute teachers to receive unemployment benefits during the summer) to public safety (calling for the creation of a database of private security cameras to aid police investigations) to healthcare (granting equal access to specialty care for low-income patients at university hospitals).
One of those six, a law that would allow charitable organizations to post bail for indigent defendants who can’t afford it, passed both chambers late in the session and is now awaiting Cuomo’s signature, the final step in the lawmaking process.
Rivera concedes that Democrats, who control the assembly but not the senate, fell short on some of its goals, including the strengthening of rent regulations (current regulations were extended, not strengthened) and revenue generation (Rivera wanted the millionaire’s tax extended, but instead, it ended).
District ‘In Good Hands’
Colleagues are consistently positive about Rivera, but fellow Bronx state senator, Ruben Diaz, Sr., said he blamed all Democrats, Rivera included, for voting in a budget that cut into education, healthcare and senior services. (Rivera says he voted no on two of the nine budget bills, including the revenue generation bill and the education funding bill.)
Back in the Bronx, Rivera was criticized for failing to promptly set up a district office. Someone even started a Gustavo Watch blog, counting the days he was without a Bronx home base. Rivera blamed the senate bureaucracy for the delay and set up mobile hours at locations throughout the district. He finally secured an office on the Grand Concourse, just south of Fordham Road, in May.
Haile Rivera, a University Heights resident who worked on Espada’s campaign last fall and, like Gustavo Rivera (no relation), worked on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign in Florida, said his representative fell short on housing reform and isn’t sure what he accomplished during his first year.
“Aside from the CAN Initiative, the exercise, meet-me-at-the-park thing, not sure what he’s done,” Haile Rivera said. He admitted it was “sad” and the he “liked the guy,” but said he thought his state senator should be focused on helping people find jobs before helping them live healthier lives.
Still, many see a bright future for Rivera.
“This district is in good hands,” said Assemblyman Jose Rivera (again, no relation), whose district is contained in Gustavo Rivera’s district.
The two Riveras, who share a common first name (Gustavo goes by his middle name), also shared a town hall meeting during the summer in Kingsbridge Heights, part of a series of town hall meetings Gustavo Rivera initiated in various parts of his district.
The best thing about Gustavo, Jose Rivera says, is that “he’s a listener. He listens to people.”
And, of course, there’s his singing voice. “The people love it,” Jose Rivera says.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Children's Hospital at Montefiore still on forefront of saving kids' lives

By Sarah Armaghan - Daily News


Ten years and 1.5 million tots later, The Children's Hospital at Montefiore is still winning world renown for innovative medicine, while covering the basics right here in its hometown.
Dotted with Little Mermaid characters painted on the windows, the 10-story building on Bainbridge Ave. in Norwood, the Bronx, that serves the 21-and-under crowd boasts a new $6 million pediatric hybrid catheterization lab.
The lab is the first of its kind in the city, and allows pediatric cardiac surgeons and cardiologists to perform minimally-invasive surgery on child hearts, limiting what would normally be a five-day hospital ordeal to a 24-hour stay.
And an outpatient cancer facility allowed the hospital to be one of the first in the nation to treat some children with the disease while they're at home.
They come in, receive their chemotherapy medicine and go home with backpacks containing the pumps, making it easier for kids who normally spend up to 10 months per year in the hospital.
"Our vision was simple," explained Dr. Philip Ozuah, CHAM's physician-in-chief. "We wanted to be able to look any family in the eye and say 'We can take care of your child, whatever happens.'"
With white rosary beads strung around her neck, 12-year-old Michelle Nguyen, a seventh grader at Our Lady of Refuge School in the Bronx, sat in a hospital bed one day last week, doing her homework.
She is in her third cycle of chemotherapy, and this is her fifth inpatient stay at CHAM since she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in July.
"They make it fun for me," said the girl, whose hair is thin from the harsh treatments. "I go to the play room and play [with] puzzles, and I get to talk to other kids who are sick like me - it helps me deal with everything."
Like many parents, Michelle's mother, Mai Nguyen, 37, stays overnight at her child's bedside, sleeping in a reclining chair. There are complimentary meals for inpatients' families so they don't have to eat out three times per day.
Nearly 80% of patients going through the CHAM network are covered by Medicaid. It has 25 satellite offices for primary and specialty care for children across the Bronx, where kids can receive preventive care and treatment for obesity, asthma and diabetes - three of the biggest health battles in the borough.
"We don't turn anybody away," said Dr. Steven Safyer, the president and CEO of Montefiore Medical Center. "Some of these kids come from the poorest neighborhoods and families and don't have primary care - but we make it happen."
In 2004, CHAM made international headlines when it separated 2-year-old Filipino twins - Carl and Clarence Aguirre - who shared one brain. "It had never been successful anywhere before," Ozuah said.
CHAM boasts a 100% heart transplant survival rate, compared to the national norm of about 83%, according to Ozuah.
Plans are in the works to double the size of the hospital by building another 10-story tower next to the existing one to accommodate the overwhelming need.
"Now, we're standing at a threshold," Ozuah said excitedly. "We're looking at the next 10 years with an even more daring vision."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Take Care NY - Flu Shots Available

North Central Bronx Hospital
3424 Kossuth Avenue
October 5, 12,19, 26
11am-2pm

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Senator Rivera Toured Family Health Center Promoting “Bring Your Loved One To The Doctor” Day and Importance of Preventative Medicine


Bronx, NY – Senator Gustavo Rivera (D, WF-Bronx) and Bronx Community Health Network, Inc. (BCHN) took a tour of  The Family Health Center to promote “Bring Your Loved One to the Doctor Day” on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 12:00 PM. Senator Rivera has been partnering with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., the Bronx Community Health Network, Inc., Montefiore Medical Center, and other community partners as part of the Bronx CAN Health Initiative. The month of September has been focused on highlighting the importance of preventative medicine and accessing healthcare regularly as part of maintaining one’s health.During the tour Senator Rivera weighed himself, took part in a cooking demonstration and also had his blood pressure taken.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Para cambiar El Bronx hay que bajar unas libras

Con retos de salud pública, Senador pierde peso para motivar a residentes
José Acosta - El Diario NY


Photo from El Diario

NUEVA YORK — En el distrito senatorial 33 de El Bronx, el 68% de los residentes sufre de sobrepeso u obesidad. En ese porcentaje está incluido el senador estatal del área, Gustavo Rivera, quien ya ha rebajado 14 de las 20 libras que se propuso rebajar de junio a octubre con intención de mostrarles a sus representados que sí se puede.

La meta de bajar de peso del legislador forma parte de la Iniciativa de Salud El Bronx CAN (Cambiar Actitudes Ahora), un programa que la oficina del Senador y la presidencia del condado están llevando a cabo desde junio con el objetivo de educar a la comunidad sobre cómo crear mejores hábitos de salud.

"En El Bronx tenemos los peores índices de salud en todo el estado, altos índices de obesidad, diabetes, enfermedades del corazón, asma, y para llamar la atención del problema y hacer algo al respecto, me puse como ejemplo para bajar de peso", dijo Rivera, quien en junio pesó 299 libras y el domingo, en el tercer evento mensual de la campaña realizado en el parque St. James, pesó 285.

El senador de 35 años dijo que desde niño no fue disciplinado a la hora de empuñar la cuchara, debido en parte, según aseguró, a cuestiones culturales, ya que cuando iba a casa de su abuela siempre le ponían más comida en el plato.

"Hay cosas que podemos hacer todos los días para ser un poco más saludables, como añadir más verduras y frutas a la dieta, comer con menos sal, grasa y azúcar y porciones más pequeñas, hacer ejercicios regularmente, y subir las escaleras en lugar de tomar el ascensor", dijo Rivera.

Como parte de El Bronx CAN el domingo pasado se realizó una feria de salud con personal médico del hospital Montefiore, que incluyó toma de la presión arterial, clases de Zumba, preparación de platos saludables, etc.

"En octubre vamos a incluir las escuelas, para que los jóvenes aprendan a tomar mejores decisiones nutricionales y físicas", dijo Rivera.

"También queremos llevar la iniciativa a todo el condado, y uno de los planes es aumentar el número de mercados de productores, para que más vecindarios tengan acceso a verduras y frutas frescas", reveló.

Un estudio realizado en marzo de este año por la Universidad de Wisconsin y la Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, encontró que en El Bronx el 26% de los adultos está en mala forma física, comparado con el 16% a nivel nacional. Y en el condado ocurren 8,139 muertes prematuras por 100,000 personas, mientras el promedio estatal es de 5,933 muertes.

Otro estudio, realizado por el gobierno local en 2008, encontró que 9 de los 12 distritos comunitarios de El Bronx cuenta con muy pocos supermercados, forzando a una gran franja de residentes a depender de comida no saludable pero barata.

Una de las que tomó el reto de mejorar su salud con El Bronx CAN es Dilletta Pina, quien comenzó en junio con 168 libras y gracias al programa ha rebajado seis libras.

"Con El Bronx CAN uno aprende a encontrar lugares donde se pueden conseguir frutas y verduras frescas, cómo cocinar comida más saludable, hacer ejercicios, y conectarse con centros de salud para charquearse la presión arterial, la diabetes, etc.", dijo Pina.

La participante dijo que el programa le está dando resultados, "porque ahora siento que respiro mejor, subo las escaleras en lugar de tomar el ascensor y no me siento agotada, duermo más tranquila y mi presión arterial ha mejorado".

El programa se hará todos los años. Más información: www.bronxcan.com

En El Bronx tenemos los peores índices de salud en todo el estado de Nueva York".

Senador Estatal Gustavo Rivera

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Grow to Learn Awards 36 Grants to NYC School Gardends



Today, GrowNYC and the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City announced $59,044 in mini-grant funding awarded to 36 New York City public and charter schools looking to build, maintain, or expand their garden programs. Forty-one percent of grant funds distributed are supporting schools located in District Public Health Office zones, areas designated by The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) as experiencing the highest rates of diet-related illness: the South Bronx, Central Brooklyn and parts of Harlem.
potting a plantThese mini-grants, in amounts up to $2,000, are part of Grow to Learn: Citywide School Gardens Initiative. As part of the initiative, schools can not only apply for a mini-grant, they can register their garden and become eligible to receive materials and expert advice from GreenThumb, the community garden division of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation.
"Thanks to support from Bank of America and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, we were able to help 36 schools this round -- who would not otherwise have the resources to do so -- break ground on new gardens or expand or spruce up existing gardens. Now our youngest residents living in communities disproportionately affected by high rates of obesity and diabetes will get outside, get active, grow, and taste -- in some cases for the first time -- a strawberry or a tomato they grow themselves," said GrowNYC executive director Marcel Van Ooyen.
Studies demonstrate that gardens connect children to the natural world, provide hands-on learning opportunities, instill environmental stewardship, transform children's food attitudes and habits, and increase physical activity. While New York City's public education system includes about 1,600 schools serving 1.1 million students, there are fewer than 400 school gardens. In just one year, Grow to Learn is proud to have fostered a 15 percent increase in school gardens across the city.
School garden programs come in many sizes, shapes, and locations, including classrooms, schoolyards, and partnerships with urban farms or community gardens, all of which are eligible to apply.
For example, PS 146 in East Harlem will use their Grow to Learn Mini-Grant to expand their garden and purchase tools for kids, stepping stones, indoor growing lights, and seed starts so students can see the entire plant cycle. They'll also send some of their teachers to the New York Botanical Gareden for professional development so they can better use the garden as an extension of the classrooms, fostering conversations across all grade levels to occur as students make connections around food. The cafeteria plans to incorporate vegetables and herbs grown into meals for students.
"We are excited to embark on the edible garden experience through our Grow to Learn grant. Students here have been learning about healthy foods and healthy choices for a few years now and it is exciting that they will finally be able to take part in growing their own food. As a culture we have become far removed from what food is and where it comes from that we are excited to be involved in a program teaches to the whole child in an effort to brings whole foods into the classrooms and bodies of our students who are the future of the world," said Beth Reed, PS 146 wellness coordinator.
"The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is thrilled to support the installation of food gardens at schools in New York City neighborhoods that are disproportionately affected by high rates of nutrition-related chronic diseases," said Andrew Bowman, program director for the foundation's Environment Program. "These gardens will provide students with hands-on experience that could fundamentally change their relationship with food."
Schools can go to www.nyc.gov/growtolearn (or www.growtolearn.org) to access information on how to plan a garden, register a garden, ask technical gardening questions, apply for a mini-grant, connect with educational resources, and get inspired by success stories.

Grow to Learn Mini-Grant Recipients

MANHATTAN
P.S. 964
P.S./ M.S. 278
P.S. 126
P.S. 84
P.S. 175
P.S. 146
P.S. 166
P.S. 48 H.S.
Harlem Renaissance H.S.
The Urban Assembly School for Green Careers

BRONX
P.S. 121
P.S. 54
P.S. 176
P.S. 48
P.S. 226
P.S. 66

BROOKLYN
P.S. 251
P.S. 32
M.S. 88
IS 259
P.S. 165
P.S. 65
P.S.127 - The McKinley Park School
H.S. Boys and Girls
Abraham Lincoln High School
Academy for Environmental Leadership
Automotive High School
H.S. World Academy for Total Community Health
M.S. Mott Hall IV/K522
M.S. Urban Assembly Institute of Math

QUEENS
H.S. Robert F. Kennedy Community
The Renaissance Charter School
P.S. 50 Talfourd Lawn

STATEN ISLAND
P.S. 861 School of Civic Leadership
H.S. Concord
P.S. 80 - Michael J. Petrides

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Market at Montefiore: Caring beyond hospital walls

By Gloria Pazmiño – Bronx Free Press

Lining the courtyard just off the side to the main entrance to the hospital is the Montefiore Hospital Farmer’s Market, a new initiative by the hospital to extend their comprehensive care to include healthy nutritional options for staffers and community residents, in addition to providing open community space that all can enjoy together.

The care that patients receive at Montefiore Hospital reaches far beyond the hallways and medical facilities of the campus.

Step into the hospital garden, by the campus’ main entrance on East 210th Street and Rochambeau Street, at lunchtime on any Thursday from now til late October, and you will find an abundance of colorful fruits and vegetables, and freshly prepared foods that are in keeping with the season.

Montefiore's President and CEO, Steven Safyer, MD, envisioned the farmer’s market as part of a comprehensive plan to promote healthier nutritional options for Bronx residents.

Paul Ammirato, Director of Engineering at Montefiore, was responsible for making the market a reality. He explained that the vision for the market is part of larger plan to bring fresh food and healthy initiatives to the patients.

“This is our third year holding the market. We’ve learned that it has really turned into a space for the community, the patients, and the associates of the hospital,” said Ammirato. “We are a healthcare organization and that [health] is exactly what we want to promote.”

As Dr. Safyer envisions it, with conscientious choices, the larger community can avoid being treated for many of the preventable side effects that emerge from conditions like obesity, hypertension and diabetes, all of which the Bronx has high numbers in.

And despite the overcast sky on a recent weekday, during the lunch time rush, the Farmer’s Market did brisk business with a host of residents, and nurses and doctors who stopped in for a bite.

For Yona Amsalem, owner of Yona’s Gourmet Delights in Brooklyn, business was good on that day.
Standing under a tent, while offering quiche, carrot cake, and potato pastries she said that she enjoyed being part of the Montefiore Farmer’s Market because it was always a good turnout. “I would stay here all week if I could. The customers are all very nice and everyone loves the spinach quiche,” said Amsalem.

“The market provides another great option for lunch, and it’s in a really nice space where you can retire from work for a few minutes,” said Elizabeth Armstrong, a social worker at the hospital. “This is my third time visiting, and every time I’ve bought something really tasty. Today it’s carrot cake.”

Over on the opposite end of the courtyard, Eddie Leon stood behind a series of boxes filled with several varieties of nuts. Among them was the “Dr. Oz’s Box,” an arrangement of six different types of nuts used to battle high cholesterol, high blood pressure and other ailments ,as per the recommendations of the television medical guru.

“I also have the sweet box, the salty box, the roasted box, and the raw box,” said Leon, who hasn’t missed a day at the market. He says every Thursday so far, both hospital staff and neighborhood residents come looking for their regular “fix,” as he put it.

“Nuts make for great snack because they have nutritional value,” he added.

So we offer the sweet and the healthy, depending on your needs.”

Perhaps one of the largest impacts the market has had locally has been the creation of the “Eat Healthy Shop Smart” initiative.

The program, geared towards cancer patients who visit the hospital for radiation treatments, is designed to provide expert advice for patients on how to choose fresh and healthy food to help fight their disease and minimize the side effects of treatment.

“The patients come down with the oncology nutritionists and they get to learn about which fruits and vegetables can help them on their road to recovery. Each patient is guided through each table where they learn the benefit of each food depending on their unique needs,” said Ammirato.

Hector Reyes, who sets up his tent in the center of the market, offers everything from kale, zucchini, tomatoes, avocadoes, to peppers, all depending on the month. Reyes also offers fresh fruit throughout the summer, which he said was very popular among the staff and patients. He also sets out the flowers of the season, to the delight of many passerby.

By all accounts, the hospital’s farmer’s market has become both a focal and nutritional point for local residents and hospital staff, far surpassing the expectations of the people who worked to create it three years ago.

“The market has really turned into something the entire neighborhood looks forward to,” said Ammirato, adding that they also host summertime concerts that offer entertainment for the community. “It has really helped to further our mission for healthy living and nutritional education, and that is our main goal.”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Attend the Next Bronx CAN Health Initiative Check-In This Sunday

Bronx CAN Sept. 25th Check-in

THE BRONX CAN HEALTH INITIATIVE

Join Senator Gustavo Rivera for a Health Fair Sponsored by Montefiore Medical Center
in conjunction with the Bronx CAN Partners

 
For more information or to register, call the Office of State Senator Gustavo Rivera at 718-933-2034 or email [email protected] 

Bronx CAN Partners:

Elected Officials: State Senator Gustavo Rivera - District 33
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Community Organizations: CIR/SEIU - Committee of Interns and Residents
St. Barnabas Hospital
Montefiore Medical Center
Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center
Green Bronx Machine
American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association
WHEDco - Women's Housing and Education Development
Bronx Health REACH
NYC Dept of Health & Mental Hygiene - Bronx District Public Health Office
Bronx Breathes
Bronx Smoke-Free Partnership
NYAM-DASH NY Obesity Pervention Policy Center
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Marc Academy and Family Center
Green Apple kids
Union Community Health Center
Harvest Home Farmers Market
United Federation of Teachers
Community Board 7 Health & Hospital Chair
3 Graces Medical Practice
ABADA-Capoeira Bronx
VAMOS Unidos
Veggication

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sen. Rivera Launches Free Exercise Classes at Poe Park


Senator Gustavo Rivera (D,WF-Bronx) launched Free Exercise Classes at Poe Park (East 192nd Street at Grand Concourse) as part of the Bronx CAN Health Initiative. These weekly exercise 6:30PM classes will allow members of the community to come out and exercise at no cost throughout the month of September. The next two classes will feature Capoeira (a mixed martial art dance) from ABADA - Capoeria NY.

The Free Exercise Classes are part of the Bronx CAN Health Initiative, which Senator Rivera launched in conjunction with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Bronx community organizations in June. The weekly exercise classes will be held every Monday for the month of September. The Bronx CAN Health Initiative is focused on preventative medicine and access to affordable healthcarea for the month of September.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Boro Beat

By Bob Kappstatter – NY Daily News

Meanwhile, West Bronx state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, who has been holding Tuesday evening walks around St. James Park, weighed in at 299 in June and is now at 288. His weekly walks with constituents moves Sept. 1 to 8pm Thursdays at Williamsbridge Oval Park.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New initiative in the Bronx shows residents they CAN live healthy

The Bronx Free Press - Story by Adrian Cabreja

“Do you know how many servings of vegetables one needs to consume every day?” asked Marta Garcia, of the Cornell University Cooperative Extension, as she stood before an attentive crowd of Bronx residents of all ages on a recent Saturday afternoon.
The group, which had just moments before chattered loudly, grew quiet.

“Two and a half cups of vegetables should be the daily intake,” said Garcia.
She would know.

Garcia works as a program aide at the Extension’s outreach program, in which the Ivy League university’s College of Human Ecology partners with community-based organizations throughout distinct regions in New York State to offer specific nutrition, health, and resource management programs to help residents solve their problems, and strengthen their communities.

The programs are comprehensive, as they see to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity and chronic disease through improved nutrition and health practices.

These are not simple tasks in the Bronx, which was ranked the least healthy county in the state by the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation just last year.

Garcia, along with scores of other health related community organizations, were participants in the first Bronx CAN Health Initiative Check-In, which was launched in June with the aid, in part, of New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera.

“There are several factors as to why the Bronx is the unhealthiest county, including less healthy options than other boroughs, but we can take ownership of our personal health habits and behaviors,” said Sen. Rivera.

Sen. Rivera has made a personal commitment to lose 20 lbs. by October 24th, the last day of the Bronx initiative.

At the weigh-in this past Sat., July 16th, Sen. Rivera came in at 293 lbs., down six pounds from his original weight of 299 lbs. in June when the initiative was first launched.

Participants traveled from table to table and obtained specific healthy diet tips from professional nutritionists intended to modify less than ideal or unhealthy eating habits.

“Holding these events and urging Bronxites to participate in this program is an excellent idea because it is not only helping people to lose weight, but helping people in our community learn healthy habits that will be with them for the rest of their lives,” said Waheebah Shamsid-Deen, a CAN Health Challenge participant. “I have already lost three pounds as part of the challenge but plan to lose more in a healthy way.”

Dr. Myra White, director of the Three Graces Medical Center, did the honors and weighed the Health Challenge participants.

Aside from Sen. Rivera, Dr. White recorded Kenny Agosto’s weight loss of 10 lbs. Agosto serves as the District Leader for the 80th Assembly District.

“I decided to eat less and at the same time look closely at the things I ate,” said Agosto, who noted that he had not gained the weight overnight, and that he would not lose it immediately. “Because of this initiative, I am getting on track to having a healthy lifestyle.”

Bronx Health REACH, another participating organization, offered one of the most interesting pieces of information to many of those in attendance: a plate diagram customized for the typical diet of the average Dominican or Puerto Rican Bronx resident. The diagram was a plate divided into four sections. Its point was to show the kinds of dietary recommendations made by the NYC Department of Health: one fourth of your plate should contain protein, another fourth should be made up of starch, and finally one half of your plate should be filled with vegetables.

The surprise for many was finding that the typical Latin dish often contains all of these: proteins (red beans, gandules, and various meats), starch (platanos, yucca, rice) and vegetables (broccoli, carrots, tomatoes). The problem is the disproportionate amount of starches and proteins in lieu of the vegetables.

But even that proved a small problem for the organizers of the initiative.

Veggication, an organization that promotes the “delicious world of vegetables,” provided recipes that can transform even the seemingly lowly Brussels sprouts into a great and tasty snack.

NYC Green Carts also provided two health bucks for every visitor and offered fruits and vegetables so that the participants could start eating healthy right away.

“There is no excuse not to eat healthy anymore; the Bronx has a large amount of support in making the switch,” said Kelly Moltzer, Nutrition Coordinator of The Bronx Health REACH.

The Bronx CAN Health Initiative will continue until October 24th with various events throughout the borough. All Bronx residents interested in learning more about how to adopt healthier diet and exercise habits are encouraged to visit http://www.bronxcan.com or call Sen. Rivera’s District Office at 718.933.2034.

Photos From the 2nd Check-In at St. James Park

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bronx Events: Health Fairs & Screenings

By Jeanmarie Evelly – Bronx News Network


It's National Health Center Week, and Bronx Community Health Network (BCHN) will be hosting a number of events at 10 Bronx locations to commemorate the occasion and raise public awareness about the health services they offer.

There will be a health fair tomorrow at Poe Park (Grand Concourse and East 192nd Street) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring free health screenings and health information, interactive physical activity, nutrition demonstrations, and gifts.

On Wednesday, BCHN will offer free breast cancer screenings for women over 40 who have not had a mammogram in the last year. This will take place at the Comprehensive Health Care Center, 305 East 161st St., from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The group will also be hosting a number of informational sessions throughout the week at varying locations, on issues like childhood asthma and smoking cessation; a full list of events and topics can be found here.

To find out more about BCHN and its events for the National Health Center Week, contact Renee Whiskey at 718-405-4993, [email protected] or go to www.bchnhealth.org.