Since 2006, our program has partnered with over half of the elementary schools in Upper Manhattan in School District 6. CHALK elementary is a four-year model in which we concentrate on sustainable and systemic changes within an institution; we establish a wellness council with the aim of transferring ownership of projects and wellness goals throughout the intervention. We ask schools to choose from a “menu of options” of wellness projects that best suits the needs: staff professional developments around physical activity and nutrition, implementing wellness programming for students and parents, and changes in the built environment. To continue engagement with these schools, CHALK D6 is a biyearly meeting that provides schools with a small grant to sustain wellness initiatives and projects.
CHALK received funding to expand into the high school arena. In Fall 2018, we partnered with schools at the George Washington Campus in Washington Heights. In addition, to establishing sustainable and systemic changes promoting wellness at the campus, we plan to implement the NewYork Presbyterian’s Peer Education program. Students will have the opportunity to work in a healthcare setting and learn professional, leadership, and public speaking skills to facilitate health education workshops for their peers.
Early Childhood Centers
In 2017, CHALK received funding from Healthy Tomorrows, a partnership between the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to adapt the CHALK model into the early childhood setting. CHALK Jr. has partnered with early childhood centers throughout Northern Manhattan to focus on systemic, sustainable changes in a pre-school setting targeting underserved children and their families.
We focus on changing the food environment, fostering physical activity, and organizational capacity building in Upper Manhattan through several initiatives:
CHALK Mini-grants: Each year CHALK selects ten organizations to participate in our mini-grant program. Community based organizations and initiatives are selected that support healthy lifestyles for children and families in Northern Manhattan. Mini-grants are awarded with seed money to fund new or ongoing initiatives that increase access to and knowledge about healthy foods and eating habits, and/or physical activity. CHALK serves as a resource to assist with an organization’s sustainability beyond the granting period, providing support around capacity building and connecting to resources. Since 2012, CHALK has worked with approximately 25 grantees.
CHALK Faith-based: In June 2016, CHALK initiated our first faith-based partnership with La Puerta Estrecha, long-standing, Spanish-speaking church in Inwood. Through our partnership, we assembled a wellness ministry that started numerous wellness programming for the church congregants. Many faith-based organizations, including La Puerta Estrecha, in the community wanted to hone in on food insecurity as Washington Heights and Inwood has both a high need and lack of reliable sources of emergency food assistance. CHALK has collaborated with two faith-based organizations and two citywide emergency food organizations to increase access of emergency food in the affected community.
We have several areas of focus in the outpatient clinics of the Ambulatory Care Network of NYP, such as providing monthly training to medical residents participating in CUMC’s pediatric program. CHALK’s Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program, is a collaboration between the NYP Ambulatory Care Network’s Nutrition Department, Grow NYC, and CHALK funded by NYP Community Relations. Registered Dietitians of the ACN outpatient clinics, “prescribe” their patients fruits and vegetables. These prescriptions are redeemable at the Grow NYC tents in Washington Heights and Inwood for fruit and vegetable coupons. Other programmatic initiatives have been developed to address food insecurity in the community. NYP hospital outpatient clinics has implemented universal food insecurity screening where rates average 30%, higher than citywide average. CHALK implements a multi-pronged approach to address the community’s resource gap through existing community-academic partnerships.