2030: A Plan for the City's Future and Your Health
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Queens Health Glossary
Making Sure Students All Get A Shot
By BRAD GROZNIK
Every school year parents begin a “to do” list that grows faster than things are checked off.
And inevitably, between the Spiderman lunchbox and Hi-tops some important things like vaccinations are passed over. Fortunately, the City’s Department of Health makes it as easy as possible for parents and guardians to know what shots their kids need and where to get them.
At the beginning of each school year, normally in early August, the DOH releases information on vaccinations as well as new requirements that might not already be on your list.
Last school year, the Tdap vaccine, for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, became a requirement for students entering the sixth grade. Moreover, children in day care, pre-kindergarten through fourth grade, or sixth through eighth grade are now required to receive two doses of the varicella vaccine to prevent chicken pox.
Dr. Jane R. Zucker, Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of Immunization at the New York City Health Department said in a statement that vaccinations are still the best way to prevent childhood diseases.
“Make sure that your child is up-to-date before school starts,” she said “School vaccination requirements protect your child and all students against preventable, life-threatening diseases. If you don’t have insurance or need a provider, call 311 to find a vaccination clinic.”
The best way to make sure students are ready to start school, having all their shots, is to check with his or her doctor and children older than 4 can receive their vaccinations at Health Department walk-in immunization clinics. Many hospitals throughout the borough also offer vaccinations for the fall school year.
“Getting your children immunized doesn’t only protect them,” said Dr. Oxiris Barbot, Medical Director for the DOHMH Bureau of School Health. “The school vaccination requirements guard all students from possibly life-threatening diseases that can be prevented by immunizations.”
Although it is not required, the health department recommends the HPC (human papillomavirus) vaccine to prevent cervical caner for girls 11 and 12 years old.
Other new vaccines also are recommended to protect people of all ages, the DOH said, including, rotavirus vaccine to protect infants against a severe type of diarrhea and meningococcal vaccine for adolescents.
As always flu shots are suggested for protections against the seasonal bug. The health department said people older than 50, children aged 6 months to 5 years old, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions and all health care workers should get flu shots.
To find more information about your immunization requirements, obtain a copy of immunization record or locate the nearest immunization clinic call 311 or visit www.nycgov/health.
School Lunches, More Than PB&J
By BRAD GROZNIK
Somewhere in Queens a student opened his lunch.
“Carrots,” he said. “Who wants to trade?”
One of the hardest things for parents can be packing a lunch that will incite excitement and, at the same time, be nutritious. But it’s difficult to have them smile while they chomp on their veggies. And while commercials for chewy fruit snacks and chocolate, granola bars pervade commercial breaks, how do you convince them to try hummus?
Chef Herman Linial understands this problem as well as anyone. As part of the City’s “Culinary Concepts” crew, he concocts ways to make healthy food something kids will rave about.
For a couple days this month, Lenial visited MS 158 in Bayside to introduce students to the pita pizza.
Instead of greasy cheese and pepperonis baked on pizza dough, he dressed up pits bread to the delight of the students.
The program, which started in 2004, has chefs, one for each borough, knock their noggins together in hopes of instilling nutritious eating habits in the City’s youth.
Margie Feinberg, spokeswoman for the City’s Department of Education, said the New York school cafeterias have veered away from the unhealthy trappings traditionally found under heat lamps and in coolers.
“Since 2004 the Department of Education has made school meals better for kids and better tasting,” she said.
Feinberg said students are not easily convinced to start eating healthy and there was some fight when the City got rid of fatty whole milk and nutritiously void white bread because that is what tastes good.
“But the kids have really come around,” she said. “They probably won’t go back either.”
Color is also something the City focuses on when introducing healthy foods next to the candy bars. While Lenial made sure to present his pizzas in a colorful and interesting way, the City chooses the reddest apples and yellowest bananas.
Some of the changes in the school were accepted quickly, like when trans fats were eliminated. Instead of French fries dipped into a vat of grease, they are now baked, which Feinberg said makes them taste better anyway.
The next hurdle was the vending machines, Feinberg said because even if the cafeteria is loaded with the best looking, best tasting nutritious foods, students can still order a la carte from the sugar factory.
However, Feinberg said vending machines in school now do not sell any sodas or high-calorie treats as before only juice, water and whole grains.
Feinberg added that 75 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced price lunches through a federally funded program and for more information parents and guardians should contact the school.
But maybe that’s not enough. Packing a lunch is as old as lunchboxes and there is no reason to fight tradition.
Dr. Mary L. Gavin of kidshealth.org said to brainstorm with kids about what they like to eat and what they don’t like to eat, that way it’s less likely it will be traded for a Snickers bar.
She suggests to buy lower-fat deli meats, such as turkey, use light mayonnaise or mustard and throw in baked chips, trail mix or yogurt.
Avoid prepackaged lunches, which normally are more unhealthy than lunches packed by yourself.
There are a myriad of ways to introduce kids to the wonders of veggies, like the age old peanut butter and celery recipe.
Overall, the goal is simple, Gavin writes on the Web site, good habits should be started young.
QC Offers Saturday Kids Fitness Class
By Juliet Werner
The new fitness center at Queens College’s Fitzgerald Gym isn’t just for undergrads. Each Saturday, children aged 5 to 16 participate in the Head Start Children’s Fitness Program. The program, which started last month, is headed up by QC Fitness Center Director Robert Twible.
“I knew our state-of the art fitness center and highly trained staff could make a difference for the children in the community,” Twible said.
The staff is comprised of Twible and six physical education and nutrition majors. There are currently 36 students participating.
“Grouped according to age, they take part in weight training; aerobics, including treadmill, spin bike, sprint and obstacle course work; stretching and plyometrics, a reflexive form of power training; and indoor games,” QC News Services Deputy Director Phyllis Cohen-Stevens said.
In addition, students are required to keep nutritional and activity logs in order to track their progress outside of class.
Twible said the log-keeping isn’t intrusive.
“We don’t get into concrete details of what they’re eating,” Twible said.
According to a 2005 survey put out by the Center for Disease Control, 11 percent of New York high school students are overweight and 17 percent are at risk for becoming overweight. In addition, 78 percent failed to meet recommended levels of physical activity.
Over the past 20 years, childhood obesity rates have doubled for children aged six to 11 and more than tripled among adolescents aged 12 to 19.
“The CDC’s recommendations are clear,” Cohen-Stevens said. “Increased physical activity and better diets are essential in helping children combat the risk of obesity.”
Christopher Leal, 16, is one of the first students to have participated.
“It turned out very good,” Oscar Leal said of his son’s experience. “He needed some exercise and realized he needed to get in shape…Now he’s a member of Queens College’s gym.”
Whereas sports teams require multiple practices a week, the Head Start class only meets once a week. According to Twible, this distinction has rendered the QC program more convenient for many parents.
“So far, the response has been strong and the feedback extremely positive,” he said, adding that he has plans to expand the Head Start model into QC’s Summer Camp programming.
Head Start classes are held on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. from February through May 2008. The cost is $99 for an eight-week session. For more information, call the Queens College Fitness Center at (718) 997-2740 or email Robert Twible at email@example.com.
Learning Traits Of Childhood Depression
“With 43 percent of New York City students overweight or
obese, it is unacceptable that more resources are not put toward
their physical education,” Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum said
at a Jan. 31 Assembly hearing. “We must work together to help
implement better physical activity programs in our schools and ensure
that all schools comply with state-mandated measures for physical
According to InsideSchools.org Director Pamela Wheaton, a lack
of physical education is typically linked to limited space on campus,
caused by overcrowding. In Queens, restricted space is also the
result of placing schools in converted buildings.