In response to the severity of the borough’s health needs, the Office of the SI Borough President convened a Health and Wellness Taskforce in fall 2015 with partners from across the health continuum to explore the issue of childhood obesity. Due to past success with similarly structured initiatives, the Office of the Staten Island Borough President recommended that SIPCW take the lead in establishing a coalition to develop a borough-wide strategic plan.

SIPCW convened community stakeholders, schools, CBOs, youth-serving organizations, food justice partners, and faith-based leaders across fifty organizations to explore the drivers of childhood obesity on SI. SIPCW partnered with the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU and the New York Academy of Medicine to help collect community-level data and facilitate meetings that informed the development of an action plan.

History of the Staten Island Child Wellness Initiative

The Staten Island Child Wellness Initiative (SI CWI) is a new collaboration established to address child wellness on Staten Island. SI CWI was originally formed in response to the urgent issue of child obesity that exists across Staten Island and the strong desire to reduce and reverse the rising rates of obesity, which has significant tolls on the health and well-being of the borough’s residents.

Why tackle childhood obesity on Staten Island?

  • The leading cause of death in Staten Island is heart disease, 25% higher than the overall rate in NYC
  • 63.5% of Staten Island adults ages 24-64 are either overweight or obese (source: NYC Community Health Survey 2014)
  • 38.9% of students in K-8 grades are either overweight or obese

What is the goal of the Staten Island Child Wellness Initiative?

By 2026, we will improve child health and wellness in Staten Island. Our activities will address:

  • Increasing accessibility and opportunities for active living.
  • The availability and affordability of fresh and healthy food.
  • Community-wide partnerships that shape the environment where a child lives, learns, plays, and receives healthcare.
  • Bringing 80% of Staten Island children below high school age to a healthy weight.

Our progress will be measured by the changes in BMI over time in Staten Island children.

Why is the Staten Island Child Wellness Initiative Important?

Child obesity rates on Staten Island are high, leading to diabetes, asthma, and other chronic illnesses. Our healthcare system is overwhelmed by these preventable diseases. In addition, child obesity affects the healthy development of children and adds to the burden of communities.

However, the entire community can agree that our children’s abilities to reach their full potential are largely dependent on their health. Staten Island children aren’t reaching their full potential due to poor health, and we have an opportunity to help them excel. Interventions implemented today will determine a child’s health, wellness, and happiness for a lifetime.

Finally, it is the SI CWI’s belief that children deserve a healthy start in life. It is our duty as Staten Islanders to ensure our children are able to start with opportunities to learn, live, and play in healthy ways that lead to a healthy life.

What is the status of the Staten Island Child Wellness Initiative?

The Staten Island Child Wellness Initiative is actively seeking funding for the coalition through grants and other opportunities.

How will the Staten Island Child Wellness Initiative address child wellness?

To achieve this aggressive goal, the SI CWI is determined to work collaboratively across multiple sectors. There are four specific groups that will address unique challenges across Staten Island.

  • Schools, daycare and after school programs
  • Community Environments
  • Healthcare systems and providers
  • Awareness

CWI Community Workgroup Meeting, JCC Cornerstone Community Center (Richmond Terrace)

What can I do as a community member?

Our initiative is open to all Staten Islanders interested in investing time, resources, and energy to preventing child obesity. We have many opportunities for you to support us. Contact Lorraine if you’re interested in joining our planning meetings or workgroups, or sharing resources and expertise.

Youth Empowerment

America’s Promise Alliance Program “Creating a Culture of Health in North Shore Schools” puts young people in the lead – encouraging them to identify health disparities in their schools and community, develop site-specific suggestions, and forge positive change through authentic dialogue and strong partnerships. This program is an innovative youth-led initiative utilizing a Whole-School, Whole-Community, Whole-Child (WSCC) approach. The WSCC model will teach the benefits of green space, healthy food, behavioral supports, physical activity and other social and environmental opportunities.

Check out the below video “Health Equity in Our Schools: Student Solutions,” which celebrates the work of 6 Student Wellness Councils (P.S. 18, P.S. 21, I.S. 49, I.S. 51, Curtis, Port Richmond) on Staten Island.