Friday, July 19, 2019

Update on the WELL Campaign

Bronx Health REACH's Kelly Moltzen (far right) speaking to New York State legislators and their staff during a luncheon panel about school wellness.

The Wellness, Equity's Learning Legislation Campaign (WELL), an advocacy effort to improve student health and well-being in New York launched by the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food and Education Policy, gained great momentum this spring. In partnership with Bronx Health REACH, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and the American Heart Association, the Tisch Center hosted a School Wellness Policy Lunch & Learn in Albany for New York State elected officials.

Those attending included Assemblymembers Felix Ortiz, John Salka, Al Taylor, Donna Lupardo, Karines Reyes, Victor M. Pichardo, Michael DenDekker, Walter Mosley, Nader Sayegh, Marianne Buttenschon, and Kimberly Jean-Pierre. Also attending were Senators Shelley Mayer, John Liu, Alessandra Biaggi, and Jen Metzger. The event included a panel discussion focused on the importance of school wellness policies.

Bronx Health REACH gave school community members an opportunity to learn more about the campaign and to provide feedback at the April meeting of the School-based Nutrition and Fitness Workgroup. Claire Raffel, Director of the WELL Campaign, Kelly Moltzen, Program Manager of the Creating Healthy Schools and Communities program at Bronx Health REACH and Andrea Strong of NYC Healthy School Food Alliance led a discussion about how to overcome challenges to city and state-wide school wellness policy change such as advancing nutrition education in NYC schools and what to do about the end of the PEWorks funding for physical education teachers.

With resources only offered to schools when they are failing, if schools succeed in reaching their deliverables and then resources are removed again, it does not allow the schools to maintain the successful education and school wellness programs they endeavor to achieve.  Schools are encouraged to share their stories with the WELL campaign to show legislators the positive impact of wellness programming and why a model NY state wellness policy would give schools the necessary support.

In May, Kelly Moltzen, Program Manager for Bronx Health REACH’s Creating Healthy Schools Communities Program spoke at a press conference hosted by Assemblyman Michael Benedetto who is sponsoring a bill to create a model school wellness policy in New York State.

Bronx Health REACH was very pleased to learn that Assemblyman Michael R. Benedetto agreed to sponsor a bill directing the Commissioner of Education to establish a New York state model wellness policy for local educational agencies. In May, Bronx Health REACH and the WELL Campaign participated in a press conference with the Assemblyman to announce the sponsoring of Bill A07607. Shortly before the assembly recessed for the summer break, the Assemblyman had gathered seven co-sponsors including Assemblyman Pichardo.

Assemblyman Pichardo, who is also a wellness programming advocate, met with Bronx Health REACH and teachers from PS58 earlier this spring to gain some firsthand insight into school wellness challenges and offer support and advice. Bronx Health REACH, Tisch Food Center and other partners will continue to gather the positive stories of wellness programming and seek out more school wellness champions to join their campaign during this summer. Submit your nominee here.

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