Dr. Ruth Petersen, Director for the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity,
and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Opening the symposium was Dr. Ruth Petersen, Director for the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Petersen spoke about the REACH program improving the health of many Americans by providing 2 million people greater opportunities for choosing healthy foods and beverages, and 600,000 people with increased opportunities to be physically active as a result of environmental and policy improvements. Richard Hamburg from Trust for America’s Health and Dr. Susan Beane from Healthfirst were keynote speakers. Mr. Hamburg noted that the best long term investment is increasing CDC funding to programs such as REACH as doing so has been shown to improve the health and well-being of many communities. Dr. Beane discussed Healthfirst's efforts to merge health and social services to create and support a "Healthy Village" system of healthcare.
Gail Heidel, Associate Director of Creative Arts Programs at Casita Maria.
Bronx Health REACH partners were featured on two panels. On the Community Leadership and Engagement panel Erwin Figueroa, Bronx organizer for Transportation Alternatives spoke about the work of transforming the Grand Concourse into a Complete Street. And, on the Evaluation and Storytelling panel, Gail Heidel, Associate Director of Creative Arts Programs at Casita Maria, gave an overview of their projects painting murals on playgrounds in the South Bronx to encourage more outdoor physical activity. She also spoke about engaging residents to be active participants in the Bronx campaign to become ‘The World’s Strongest Borough’ utilizing the ‘Mobile Pull-Up Bar of Power.’
Charmaine Ruddock, (left) Project Director at Bronx Health REACH.
The final panel of the day was a unique conversation with funders and grantees discussing, from their respective perspectives, the expectations and efforts of each when trying to effect long term sustainable changes in communities disproportionately experiencing racial and ethnic health disparities. The panelists were Max Winer from New York University, Sarah Oltmans from Robin Hood Foundation, Nupur Chaudhury from the New York State Health Foundation, Linda Lee from Korean Community Services and Bronx Health REACH's Charmaine Ruddock. Charmaine focused her remarks on the importance of getting buy in from the community. "You can't have folks helicopter into the community and helicopter out; there has to be a commitment to the community."