HEMPSTEAD, NY—Third-grade students from the Barack Obama Elementary School, Hempstead, NY, learned about the building blocks for being well at the second annual Healthy Living Long Island event—a public health initiative designed and led by Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell medical students to help lay the foundation at for a lifetime of healthy habits at an early age. The event was held on Friday, Jan 17, at the Zucker School of Medicine.
The core of the program is based on the nationally-recognized 5-2-1-0 guidelines advising children to eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables, spend no more than 2 hours on recreational screen time, participate in at least 1 hour of physical activity, and drink 0 sugary drinks each day. Healthy Living LI was adapted from the state of Maine’s “Let’s Go!” program, an obesity prevention initiative.
“We begin by introducing ourselves and the topic during an assembly with children at their school. We then go into their classrooms during two sessions to teach healthy habit principles. The following session they pay a visit to the medical school for our program which includes a host of fun activities. In June, we will recap what they learned and how they have applied it to their lives,” explained Lydia McKenzie, a second-year medical student who is among five leaders of the Healthy Living LI program including classmates Steven Parra, Crystal Robinson, Sonam Brahmbhatt, and Nicole Grbic.
During the Healthy Living LI event, more than 50 third-graders guided by nearly 40 medical student and faculty volunteers participated in several interactive education sessions featuring a choreographed dance routine, a sugar demonstration, a healthy plate-making exercise, and a physical activity zone including an obstacle course. The youngsters received instruction about the importance of regular exercise and reducing screen time, hydrating with water throughout the day, and feeding their growing bodies with nutrient-rich foods. The experience also promoted interest in the fields of science and medicine.
“I really learned a lot from the sugar demonstration, everything was a lot of fun,” said third-grade participant, Gabrielle. “We all want to go to school here!”
For all involved, it’s the icing on the cake—in moderation, of course.
“As medical students representing all walks of life, we hope that we can inspire the kids to adopt a healthy lifestyle and think about becoming doctors too,” said Mr. Parra.
Special thanks to Zucker School of Medicine students, faculty, and staff of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Office of Student Affairs as well as teachers, administrators, and parents of Barack Obama Elementary School for coordination and support of Healthy Living LI.
Listen to event coverage on WRHU Radio Hofstra University: