In 2004, with a three-year federal grant of over $2.2 million, NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, in collaboration with the Division of Community Pediatrics of Columbia University, launched the Healthy Schools Healthy Families initiative to reach medically under-served children in Northern Manhattan. This school-based collaboration was designed to partner health professionals with school staff and community organizations to assess the needs of children and families and to mobilize resources to address those needs. Today, the program serves some 5,000 children in seven elementary schools (kindergarten through fifth grade) in Washington Heights, West Harlem and East Harlem.
Healthy Schools Healthy Families seeks to cultivate healthy lifestyle behaviors, including physical fitness, good nutrition, and regular doctor visits among school children and their families. In addition, the program is helping to improve the health of children by facilitating access to preventive, primary and specialty care, health insurance and social services.
School-based program coordinators and staff at each of the participating schools have implemented the program with the following goals:
- to identify uninsured children and families and to facilitate insurance enrollment
- to make sure 100% of children have completed their required immunizations
- to cultivate a culture of physical fitness, good nutrition, and healthy lifestyle behaviors
- to screen for and facilitate access to services for children with identified health needs, particularly for asthma
- to integrate mental health promotion with healthy lifestyles interventions to realize a holistic view of optimal health and wellness.
Our overarching goals are to bring about a school-wide culture change by engaging all members of the school community in activities that alter their behaviors and increase healthy lifestyles.