On Wednesday, February 15th, BP Oddo joined with District Attorney McMahon, NYPD Assistant Chief Delatorre and health professionals to announce the Heroin Overdose Prevention and Education (HOPE) initiative, which redirects low-level drug offenders to community-based health and treatment services instead of jail and prosecution. The goal of HOPE is to reduce drug overdoses and improve public safety by getting those suffering from addiction onto the path to recovery.
The program allows eligible offenders to meet with peer coaches to provide them with a naloxone kit and talk to them about the program. The peer coach will also encourage the individual to visit a community based Resource and Recovery Center, of which there are two on Staten Island – one that runs 24 hours on the North Shore by Community Health Action of Staten Island, and another that operates on the South Shore by Christopher’s Reason and the Resource Training Center. If the individual decides to pursue treatment, the case will not be prosecuted.
“We have to think outside the box on this issue,” said BP Oddo. “We’ve begun to do that with our Too Good for Drugs and HOPE initiatives. We need to work together with law enforcement, health professionals and community-based organizations to help educate the next generation about the dangers of opioids and get those in need into treatment. This initiative is just one part of our multi-faceted approach to dealing with the opioid epidemic.”
“This effort recognizes that substance abuse illness is both a public health and a public safety crisis that is endangering our community and demands urgent collective action. Too often in our criminal justice system, individuals suffering from substance abuse disorder find that treatment or services are too far out of their reach or offered too late in the process to have meaning in their lives. Putting this effort in place has been an extraordinary example of the power that government can harness and mobilize across multiple disciplines to tackle a crisis effectively,” said District Attorney Michel McMahon.
In 2015, Staten Island had the highest rate of overdose death of any of the five boroughs and one of the highest rates in all of New York State. Last year, the NYPD reported more than 90 suspected overdose deaths on Staten Island and an additional 74 overdose-reversals with the drug Naloxone made by the NYPD.
On Thursday, January 19th, BP Oddo presented an AED to Dance Sensations Dance Studio as part of “The Heart Project” initiative his office launched in November. As part of the initiative, BP Oddo purchased 20 AEDs with expense funding to be distributed to small businesses and non-profit organizations throughout the Island.
Other businesses that received donated AEDs from BP Oddo are Country Pro Shop & Award Center, 5050 Skatepark, DeSantis, Kiefer, Shall and Sarcone Accountants, On Your Mark Chocolatiers, PNG Computers, A Group of Citizens of New Dorp (Boy Scouts), Nichols Great Kills Park Marina, ACT Care Group (Adults Communicating Together), Max’s Esca Restaurant and Staten Island Dog Companion Training Club. There are still nine remaining AEDs to be distributed to Island businesses.
Each year in the U.S., there are approximately 424,000 cardiac arrests outside of a hospital, and on average, just 5.2% of victims survive. Immediate CPR and early defibrillation with an AED can more than double a victim’s chance of survival. In fact, early defibrillation, along with CPR, is the only way to restore the victim’s heart rhythm to normal in a lot of cases of cardiac arrest. For every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, however, the chances of survival decrease by 7–10%.
BP Oddo has spent his entire career advocating the use of AEDs and CPR. In fact, his 2005 law, Local Law 20, was the first law in New York City mandating AEDs in many public buildings.
"I’m encouraged by the response to ‘The Heart Project.’ We're grateful to Dina and the 9 other businesses that have stepped forward to participate in this initiative,” noted BP Oddo. “We hope that they never have to use their AED, but should there be a circumstance that requires it, Dina and the staff of Dance Sensations are now prepared to address it."
“We think this is a great opportunity,” said Dina Canepa, owner of Dance Sensations. “We have hundreds of kids and parents coming in and out of here. If we can avoid a terrible situation, we want to do that. We’re happy to have this safety precaution.”
Local businesses with fewer than 25 employees can apply to receive an AED. Recipients must train their employees in CPR/AED, and the Staten Island Heart Society is partnering with BP Oddo’s office to offer reduced rates for their Heart Saver/AED Certified Class.
Every Staten Island Elected Official Joins Borough President Oddo in Signing onto Letter to Governor and Mayor saying: “Thank you; We Need More Help” on Opioid Epidemic
“Thank you; we need more help,” is the message of a short letter drafted by Borough President James S. Oddo and signed by every other elected official on Staten Island to Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio.
The letter, dated January 10, 2017 and addressed to Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio reads in total as follows:
“We sincerely thank you for all you have done to help us fight the opioid epidemic plaguing Staten Island.
“We desperately need more help.
“We are hopeful we can all get in the same room in the near future to figure out how we can do even more.”
Ironically, within hours of sending the letter, the Governor sent out a press release announcing a slew of new proposals in his State of the State to combat this epidemic state wide.
“I certainly welcome the Governor’s new proposals, and look forward to learning more about them,” said Borough President Oddo. “In fact, they are an indication of how important it is to get in the same room to discuss all our efforts and discuss what more can be done. At our December 2, 2016 meeting I hosted at Borough Hall, my colleagues and I agreed that the crisis is so pervasive and serious that we must be working with the highest reaches of the state and city government to solve it. This letter appealing to the Governor and Mayor for their direct engagement with us asks just for that. Does the request reflect a bit of chutzpah on our part? Perhaps. But the cause is that important and the consequences of inaction too serious.”
Besides Borough President Oddo, the bipartisan group of elected officials signing onto the letter was: District Attorney Michael McMahon, Congressman Dan Donovan, State Senators Andrew Lanza and Diane Savino, Assembly Members Michael Cusick, Matthew Titone, Nicole Malliotakis, and Ron Castorina, and Council Members Steven Matteo, Joe Borelli, and Debi Rose.
The Staten Island Slimdown kicked off on Sunday, January 8th, and BP Oddo is urging Staten Islanders to get involved with the free health and wellness program. The Slimdown, now in its 7th year, encourages Staten Islanders to embrace healthy lifestyle practices such as exercise and healthy eating.
The Slimdown provides participants with free access to exercise classes, coaching, meal plans and other health information. The participant with the most inspirational transformation will win a cash prize at the end of the year. "Surprise" fitness classes begin on January 12th and continue every Thursday night at a different location throughout the Island. Each week, the group will do a different type of exercise, which will be announced at the class.
To register for the Slimdown or learn more about the program, visit StatenIslandSlimdown.com.
On Monday, December 12th, BP Oddo announced the next step in efforts to create a new public charter school for students with dyslexia and language-based learning difficulties - the formation of a planning team that will submit the application for the creation of the new specialized charter school.
Thousands of students on Staten Island suffer from dyslexia, which affects the ability to read, write and process letters and words. Students with dyslexia require explicit, targeted and systematic instruction, as well as opportunities for practice with corrective feedback.
Beginning in November of 2014, BP Oddo began meeting with parents, advocates, and dyslexic children to better understand the challenges they face every day. In early 2016, the Borough President and his staff became convinced that the best course forward to help address the needs of this cohort of students would be the creation of a new public charter school. Towards that end, in November the Borough President convened a Planning Team for the school, led by Tim Castanza, consisting of dyslexia experts, advocates, educators and parents.
“We have heard the requests from parents, students, teachers and the Staten Island community for a school whose classroom staff is trained to recognize and teach students with dyslexia and other language-based learning difficulties,” said BP Oddo. “We understand the frustration that many of our children are feeling; they are bright and intelligent, but cannot seem to learn to read and process as easily as their peers. All children have the ability to learn and succeed, but some are often lost in the traditional school structure. In order for our students to succeed, they must be offered a different approach, with access to a high quality option that will capitalize on their individual learning style and strengthen their other learning pathways. I believe that, under the leadership of Tim Castanza and with guidance from my staff and other educational professionals, this school would help struggling readers on Staten Island achieve success and discover the joy of learning.”
"We need to provide access to different resources so everyone can get a high quality education" said Tim Castanza, Executive Director of the planning team. "There's an urgency behind this need, and we have an opportunity to address it. This dyslexia charter school would benefit kids on Staten Island for years to come."
BP Oddo will continue to work closely with the Dyslexia Planning Team as the approval process continues with the hope of having the school up and running by September of 2018.
On Monday, December 12th, Borough President Oddo and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (Brooklyn) co-sponsored a Dyslexia Awareness Forum at Wagner College.
Speakers at the event included Dr. Amy Margolis, an Assistant Professor of Medical Psychology with an appointment in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University and Dr. Carolyn H. Strom, a Visiting Assistant Professor at NYU who studies reading and literacy development in young children and adolescents.
In addition to these speakers, a panel of Staten Islanders whose lives have been affected by dyslexia will discuss life with dyslexia and the need for a solid educational approach to address the needs of dyslexic children. The panel included educators, parents and both an adult and child who have dyslexia.
More than 9,000 students on Staten Island suffer from dyslexia, which affects the ability to read, write and process letters and words.
“I am committed to advocating for these families and fighting for more educational programming that addresses the specific needs of children with dyslexia, beginning with our proposed charter school,” noted BP Oddo. “We put this event together to allow families to hear from experts as well as those who have dyslexia in an effort to broaden awareness and bring resources to those who need it. I want to thank Assemblywoman Simon for partnering with us to help bring this event to Staten Island.”
“With a clear focus on dyslexia awareness, we will be able to effectively and accurately diagnose and treat this specific learning disability that affects so many,” noted Assemblywoman Simon. “Our young learners deserve to grow in an environment that is fully equipped with the tools necessary to meet their individual learning needs. I’m pleased we have received so much support from our colleagues and organizations throughout New York to make this a successful event.”
Over 75 people attended the event.
BP Oddo is pleased to announce the four dates that he will host free mammography screenings next year on Staten Island. The screenings will take place on January 17th, April 25th, July 26th and October 3rd. The mobile mammography van will be at the Forest Avenue Shopping Plaza in Port Richmond (in front of LA Fitness) from 9:30am to 4:30pm. On the January and July dates, there will also be a van at Bricktown Commons (Michael’s Parking Lot) in Charleston from 9am to 12pm and at Hylan Plaza Parking Lot in New Dorp (near CVS) from 1:30pm to 4:30pm. On the April and October dates, the van will be in New Dorp from 9am to 12pm and in Charleston from 1:30pm to 4:30pm.
The screenings will be available to eligible women ages 40 and older who have not had a mammogram in the past year. All insurance plans will be accepted, and co-pays and deductibles will be waived. The mammograms will be free to uninsured women.
An appointment must be made to get screened. To make an appointment at the Forest Avenue location, call (718) 816-2133 or (877) 628-9090. To make an appointment at the Bricktown Commons or Hylan Plaza locations, call (800) 564-6868.
“We are providing these mobile screenings to encourage Staten Island women to take charge of their health and make sure they get their annual mammogram,” noted BP Oddo. “Mammograms are important preventative measures for women. The earlier cancer is found, the easier it is to treat. Despite recommendations to the contrary from some organizations, experts continue to emphasize the importance of mammograms in detecting breast cancer. Women should always speak to their doctors about when they should begin getting screened, and should always make this decision in consultation with their doctors.”
The screenings will be funded by Project Renewal and the American-Italian Cancer Foundation.