Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Health Corps Wins Support

In a recognition of the serious problems that the city has with childhood obesity and other related health illnesses, the just concluded city budget includes an allocation of $1,700,000 for the Health Corps. The initiative, modeled after the Peace Corps and spearheaded by Council Health Chair, Joel Rivera, is designed to create an activism and health awareness among city high school students. The concept is the brainchild of the famed Dr. Mehmet Oz.

With the council's support, and over a million dollars raised privately, the Health Corps will be expanding into an additional thirty high schools in the fall. Currently there are nine school programs in place from the first council grant that was allocated last year. In addition, we have had discussions with the State Senate (we are working pro bono for the program) and there is a good chance that five more high schools will be added for the upcoming school year.

The Health Corps will also be working with the DOE and there is a good chance that it will be an integral part of all of the school-based health programs. What the program offers is an active group of young people who can deliver the health message to family, friends, and the wider community.

As we have mentioned before, the HC will also be working in tandem with the DOH's "Healthy Bodega" initiative, helping to market healthier snacks in the city's grocery stores. What the initiative needs is an activist-community component that focuses in on the "demand" side of the healthier eating equation. The Health Corps is uniquely situated to do just that. As part of the community outreach effort we will be looking to partner with Mount Sinai and the East Harlem health organizations; Sinai, and the indefatigable Dr. Barbara Brenner have pioneered health outreach work in this community, and their efforts serve as a model of what should be done in this area.