Roosevelt Pediatric Obesity Initiative
In 2011, Hofstra's National Center for Suburban Studies organized a team of academics, health practicioners, educators and community activists to tackle the life-threatening problem of childhood obesity. NCSS raised the initial funding -- thanks to the ongoing generosity of Dr. Howard Kerpen through the Foundation for the Innovations in Medical Education--- and created partnerships that included the university's Department of Health Professions' Master of Public Health program, the Pediatrics Department at Nassau University Medical Center (NUMC) and the Roosevelt Union Free School District. The goal has been to create a community-based model to address the issue of pediatric obesity in one of Long Island's poorest neighborhoods.
Three years later, led by Dr. Martine Hackett of the Hofstra's Masters of Public Health Program, monthly meetings of the Wellness Committee are held at Roosevelt Middle School. Team members have collaborated on annual school health fairs and district wellness policies; conducted educational evening events in the school for children and their families; collected aggregate data on student's body mass index, nutrition and physical activity and have had pediatric residents from NUMC add to their community pediatrics rotation by educating students in their classes. (See the link to this report to the right.)
In April 2014 undergraduate and graduate students from across the Hofstra campus participated as teams in a Case Competition for the best proposal to reduce childhood obesity in Roosevelt. (A link to a copy of the winning entry can be found to the right.)
Outside of the school we partnered with two community- based organizations and high school students and conducted a community needs and assets assessment of food and physical activity environment using Photo Voice technique. Our community based research on childhood obesity has been presented at academic conferences and produced peer-reviewed journal manuscripts. With the full support of Dr. Deborah Wortham, the superintendent of the district, and her mission of educating the "whole child" to excel, our future plans include applying for collaborative grant funding, using social media to engage students and families, and advocacy work to improve community access to healthy foods and safe places for physical activity.