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.”