The YMCA of the United States awarded only twenty grants to different YMCAs nationwide to implement the HWYC program. HWYC is a holistic evidence-based lifestyle-change intervention that addresses childhood obesity by empowering children and their caregivers/families through education, healthy eating, physical activity and group support.
According to the NYC Department of Education, 19.2% of Staten Island public school children in grades K – 8th are clinically obese. According to the Staten Island Child Wellness Initiative, 38.9% of K – 8 students across Staten Island fit the definition of being overweight or clinically obese.
“I want to thank our good friends and RUMC, as well as our good friends at the YMCA for allowing us to be a part of this program. When we got to Borough Hall in 2014, one of the fundamental changes we made was to put an emphasis on education and on health and wellness,” noted Borough President Oddo. “I’m so appreciative of what you all do every day, to be so passionate about healthy food and to take the platform you have to talk about the need to educate and inspire. Our audience is those who want to be inspired and those who want to know how to live a healthier life. This is going to help families on Staten Island, and this is a good thing.”
This pilot program is a partnership between RUMC and the Broadway YMCA facilitated by the Borough President’s Office. It consists of 25 sessions over 15 weeks that will take place at Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church. Studies have shown that this program is cost-efficient and effective in reducing a child's body mass index and waist circumference, reducing sedentary behaviors, increasing physical activity and improving self-esteem.
“The Broadway YMCA is proud to partner with the Office of the Staten Island Borough President, RUMC and St. Mary’s Church to implement this program,” said Joe Verhey, Executive Director of the Staten Island Broadway YMCA. “Our mission is to empower youth, improve health and strengthen community, so we are thrilled to be involved in yet another program that supports families and young people in our community as they improve their health and create better habits for life.”
RUMC identified patients aged 7-13 years old with a 95% BMI in the clinical practice who qualified and were offered a spot in the HWYC program. One caregiver from each family will also be required to participate in these sessions. Physicians will continue to stay connected during the program and regularly perform comprehensive tests on the enrolled children, such as BMI, blood pressure, and the presence of lipids. At the same time, they will conduct a mental health assessment at the beginning and conclusion of the successful completion of the program.
“The number of children across Staten Island considered to be obese continues to grow at an alarming rate,” Richmond University Medical Center President and CEO, Daniel J. Messina, PhD, FACHE, said. “No matter how young a child is, obesity can cause a number of chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and liver damage. Obesity can also affect a child’s self-esteem, causing anxiety and depression. We are proud to stand with Borough President James Oddo and the YMCA as partners in the fight against childhood obesity and the encouragement of healthy lifestyles for not just the children of Staten Island, but entire families as well.”
While Borough President Oddo’s Director of Health and Wellness, Dr. Ginny Mantello, was working with the Broadway YMCA to identify funding sources that would help link clinical to community interventions, one of the YMCAs awarded a grants dropped out of the program. This gave an opportunity for the opportunity for the Broadway YMCA. However, they first needed to identify a strong clinical partner. Dr. Mantello was able to identify the Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC) Pediatric Clinic, which had high obesity rates. With the backing of Borough Hall, Dr. Mantello connected these two strong partners, and was able to solidify the application of the Broadway YMCA for the HWYC program.