“Get Your Garden On” highlights local CSAs, green markets, garden clubs to emphasize the importance of fresh, healthy foods
In honor of Earth Day, Borough President James Oddo has announced a new campaign titled “Get Your Garden On” to highlight the existing Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) programs and green markets on Staten Island, promote their activities, and encourage residents to consider growing their own food by educating them on the do’s and don’ts of creating their own gardens. With a primary focus on health and wellness, BP Oddo hopes to increase access for families to fresh foods and encourage Staten Islanders to grow their own healthy foods where possible.
“It is astonishing to learn about the gaps in our country’s food policy, which exposes truly limited access to fresh and healthy foods that we know can help alleviate chronic diseases,” Borough President James Oddo said. “By initiating this connection in our own backyards, windowsills and greenhouses to local green markets, we can provide an introduction to nearby fruits and vegetables to Staten Island residents which will have lasting benefits on their health, especially in this time of a 42% clinical obesity rate nationally, tens of millions of Americans who are diabetic and pre-diabetic, and in the wake of a pandemic that was particularly dangerous to those with pre-existing health conditions.”
This initiative will feature tips and tutorials from gardeners and farmers markets on Staten Island as a way to promote a healthy eating lifestyle. The office will dedicate a webpage on its site, www.statenislandusa.com, to share resources from local community gardens, clubs, and cultural organizations, and provide the tricks of the trade for people to feel more comfortable in attempting to grow their own food or purchase from local produce providers and know how to serve it in a healthy, yet delicious way.
The BP and his team are also finalizing a partnership with Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden's Heritage Farm for a grant to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables that will then be distributed to those who need it via local food pantries.
Those who want to share their gardens or show their local produce purchases are encouraged to post their photos on social media with the hashtag #GetYourGardenOnSI to be reposted by the office’s social media accounts.
For details, please visit www.statenislandusa.com/getyourgardenon.
Erica Mattera and Allison Regan to receive award that honors memory of fallen principal
Borough President James S. Oddo is continuing the Patrick F. Daly Award after reviving it in 2017 in honor of the 25th anniversary of Patrick Daly’s death. After carefully considering all the nominations of exemplary educators submitted by the public, the Daly Award committee selected Erica Mattera, Principal of Public School 11, and Allison Regan, a STEM teacher at PS 38 to receive the awards. The ceremony will take place virtually on Wednesday, April 21st at 7p.m. live on the office’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/statenislandusa.
The Patrick F. Daly Award was established shortly after Mr. Daly’s death to honor his legacy of service to the community, a steadfast commitment to his students, and his leadership. This award goes to two educators who exemplify the values of the fallen principal, who was gunned down 29 years ago in Red Hook, Brooklyn while searching for a student who had left the school building.
“I’m happy to continue this award to honor Mr. Daly’s legacy, and sacrifice, as well as recognize outstanding educators in our community especially during a time where so many educators had to adapt during Covid,” said Borough President Oddo. “I believe Erica Mattera and Allison Regan embody many of the exceptional qualities Mr. Daly had as an educator. Both have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to their students and a love of education and their communities.”
There is one award each year for a principal and one for a teacher. This year's awards are unique in that they highlight educators who went above and beyond given the challenges of the pandemic.
“I am completely honored by this," said honoree Erica Mattera. "I do thank the Borough President for continuing with this legacy and I obviously want to thank Mr. Daly for his courageous leadership. And to be even put in such a category, it is a memory of a lifetime. At P.S. 11, we will always remember this day and we will continue forging forward for the families of P.S. 11 and the extended families, especially for the kids. because I know that’s what Patrick Daly did and that's what he would want us to continue doing.”
"It's a true honor. It was totally unexpected," said honoree Allison Regan. "I'm an educator, so I teach. I truly didn't think I was doing anything special. I was just a teacher teaching my kids. I really want them to understand the feeling of community that I had when I went to school. I tell every student that I am so proud of them because there's no way I could do what they are doing. They are doing an absolutely marvelous job. I tell them that they are groundbreakers and they are doing something that nobody has ever done before."
Erica Mattera has served the Staten Island community as an educator and champion for children for the past 25 years. An undergraduate of Saint John’s University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education and English, and graduate of The College of Staten Island with a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education, and Supervisory Certification, Erica began her teaching career in Public School 69 in 1996. She and her students participated in many community-based activities such as the Metropolitan Opera Guild Project and Staten Island Zoological STEAM collaborative. As Assistant Principal of Public School 8 from 2002 – 2005, she partnered with Staten Island Mental Health’s Parent Reading Volunteer Program and Parents as Arts Partners, to continue the mission of community-based learning and leadership. As Principal of Public School 11 for the past 16 years, these experiences helped shape her vision of implementing a holistic approach to teaching children and their families. Each year at PS 11, Ms. Mattera can be seen engaging students in Book Clubs and Zumba classes, and talking with parents on how they can utilize resources within the community to enrich their families. As a result of Erica Mattera’s steadfast leadership, PS 11 has earned many prestigious honors such as NYC’s Excellence in School Wellness Awards, The American Legion’s Outstanding Education Award, and The Staten Island Rotary Club’s Ecology Day Grant. Erica pioneered the District 31 & District 75 Performing Arts Night from 2010 – 2016. This project helped students learn empathy and compassion, while fostering the spirit of inclusivity and teamwork. It also enabled students to build relationships with neighboring districts and organizations. Erica is the proud mother of a son, Matthew John, who lights up her life.
Allison Regan has always been an educator. At 15, she started her teaching career as a swim instructor for a local preschool summer day camp. At 17, she started working for the Broadway YMCA as a swimming and lifeguard instructor, as well as volunteering for the American Red Cross as a Lifeguard/Water Safety Instructor, CPR, and First Aid Instructor. After graduating from Kean University with a Bachelors in Outdoor Urban recreation, Allison continued to educate her students in CPR, First Aid and Lifeguarding and Water Safety as an instructor trainer for the American Red Cross, YMCA and JCC. Allison has received many awards in recognition of her service and education of the public, specifically children, about water safety and drowning prevention. After many years working as a Program Director for the YMCA, Allison enrolled at Wagner College and earned her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Still an educator, just changing the curriculum. Ms. Regan has served the students and families of P.S. 38 for over 21 years, wearing many hats and doing so with commitment to instruction, and serves on numerous teams for the advancement of the school community. She was one of the teachers to help implement the Inclusion Program (District 75) at PS 38. Allison serves her school community on the School Leadership Team, Technology Team, Testing Coordinator Team, and Webmaster. She has been responsible for the front garden including planning and planting with the students. It is a true community effort led by Allison. She is currently the STEM cluster teacher and teaches grades 2,3,4, & 5.
Campaign encourages property owners to remove litter from their property as well as 18 inches into the street
Borough President Oddo announced today the resurgence of “Own the 18,” an anti-litter program. “Own the 18” educates and encourages home and business owners to remove litter from their property, as well as 18 inches into the street, as required by NYC Administrative Code: Section 16-118(2)(a).
For the months in which the 18th day falls on a weekend, Borough President Oddo is asking Staten Island property and business owners to commit to taking a few moments to clean in front of their properties.
Sunday, April 18
Friday, June 18
Sunday, July 18
Saturday, September 18
“For the past seven years, our office has been tackling the litter issue on Staten Island, but to no avail. The borough seems to be as filthy with litter as it has ever been. We fully understand there is a pandemic and the unfortunate impacts that came along with it. However, none of this justifies the litter we see or prevents us from each doing our small role in addressing the litter we see,” said Borough President Oddo. “While I would hope Staten Islanders would do their part every day, we are designating the 18th of the spring and summer months when each of us pledge to remove litter near our homes and maybe even a neighbor's home or a senior citizen's so that we can begin to reclaim part of our quality of life.”
Those who participate are encouraged to post before and after photos on social media with the hashtag #ownthe18 to be reposted by the office’s social media accounts.
‘Take the Pressure Off Staten Island’ re-boots with kick-off this Saturday at the Central Family Life Center
Program matches haircuts with addressing high blood in Black men
Borough President James Oddo has announced a revamp of ‘Take the Pressure Off Staten Island’ (TPO SI) which has transformed into a new model to continue the effort in increasing awareness and treatment of high blood pressure among Black men in our community. The event will kick off again this weekend at the Central Family Life Center located at 59 Wright Street, Staten Island, NY 10304. Barbers will be available at the center every Saturday for a haircut. Free blood pressure checks and linkages to resources will also be provided by trained individuals at CFCL and navigators from our partners at Community Health Action of Staten Island (CHASI) until the end of the project. TPO SI is a program offered through a partnership with the City Health Department, Dr. Joseph Ravenell from NYU, along with community partners.
The first event in this series will take place on April 10th from 10am to 3pm. The program looks to combine the existing barbershop model and enhance it with the added trust of faith-based leaders at the center, particularly their Executive Director Rev. Carolina who is a senior pastor at the neighboring First Baptist Central church.
“The best way to mitigate the historic healthcare inequalities is through meaningful collaborations. Hypertension is a silent killer that disproportionately impacts communities of color,” said Rev. Carolina. “I am proud of the collaborative partnership of The Central Family Life Center, CHASI, local barbershops and the Staten Island Borough President's Office in providing blood pressure screening via community events and haircuts. By working together, everyone benefits.”
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it may not show symptoms before causing a heart attack or stroke. Hypertension is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke among New Yorkers; more than one in four adult New Yorkers is diagnosed with high blood pressure. In New York City, the prevalence of hypertension is 1.5 times higher among African American adults than white adults, and African American men have a significantly higher rate of hypertension than white men. Individuals in communities with high health disparities have historically struggled to access care.
The pilot, which began in August 2020, connected barbershops on the North Shore of Staten Island with hypertension testing as a preventative measure among African American men.
On Staten Island, the number of hospitalizations related to hypertension are higher than other boroughs. St. George/Stapleton ranks in the top 10 neighborhoods in the City for hypertension hospitalizations and heart disease.
“From the first moment I saw Dr. Ravenell’s TED Talk about how barbershops could be used to help address hypertension among Black men, Borough Hall worked to set up the pilot program last August to replicate this initiative on Staten Island. As we have heard government express such dismay at health disparities of COVID impacts across the city, we are grateful to be at this point in our effort to team up with Dr. Ravenell again to address tragically high hypertension rates among black men. The "Silent Killer" is wreaking havoc on Staten Island, too,” said Borough President James Oddo. “Going for a haircut has always been thought of - and rightly so - as contributing to a neat and clean appearance. But now there is something more to it: for some folks, it may be contributing to a longer life.”
Dr. Ravenell started a Men’s Health Initiative at NYU’s Langone Health to address high blood pressure by bringing together a diverse group of research assistants, community health workers, and volunteers—including barbers—to barbershops in various neighborhoods across New York City to take blood pressure readings of African American men and connect those who are at risk of hypertension with medical care. The results of the program show a significant improvement in blood pressure among barbershop customers who participated.
BP Oddo first discovered Dr. Joseph Ravenell’s work while reading “Who Can You Trust?” by Rachel Botsman. He subsequently watched Dr. Ravenell’s TED Talk on African American men and high blood pressure which detailed the barbershop pilot program. BP Oddo invited Dr. Ravenell to Borough Hall for a meeting with his staff and local clergy in June 2018 to talk about replicating the program on Staten Island. Over the past two years, Borough President Oddo and Dr. Ravenell have worked cohesively to replicate this program for Staten Island.
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