Coalition Launches Staten Island Child Wellness Initiative to Address Childhood Obesity

STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK (June 7, 2017) – With a staggering 38.9 percent of Staten Island students in Kindergarten through 8th grade classified as either overweight or obese, a new coalition has formed to reduce childhood obesity and the associated burden of chronic illness to ensure that SI children have a healthy future.

The Staten Island Child Wellness Initiative (CWI) launched today during an event at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Facility to coincide with Global Running Day. The event, sponsored by the Office of the Borough President James S. Oddo and The Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness (SIPCW), was supported by New York Road Runners and the New York City Parks Department.

The CWI is a cross sector coalition of more than 60 organizations, comprised of community stakeholders, schools, community-based organizations, youth-serving organizations, food justice partners, healthcare systems, elected officials, faith-based leaders, parents, and children from Staten Island and New York City who have come together to fight the alarming levels of childhood obesity on Staten Island.

The idea for the CWI was generated out of a series of meetings of Borough President Oddo’s Health and Wellness Advisory Council when participants engaged in spirited discussions about how they could have the greatest impact on Staten Island’s health outcomes, particularly young people. Thanks to generous funding from The Staten Island Foundation, and a strong partnership between Borough President Oddo and SIPCW, the SI CWI has worked tirelessly on creating a thorough and ambitious action plan working to increase opportunities for healthy living where children and families live, learn, and receive care.

“Back in 2015 my Health and Wellness Council and I decided to focus on childhood wellness as the specific area where we should focus our attention and resources to make a maximum impact on the health of Staten Islanders,” said Borough President Oddo. “As someone who visits many of our schools on at least a monthly basis, it is clear to see that childhood obesity is a real problem that must be addressed to prevent a lifetime of illness.  That is why I am working so hard on piloting a new model for physical education based on the Naperville, Illinois experience reported in the book ‘Spark’ by Dr. John Ratey.  The CWI is ambitious, but so necessary, and I thank my partners at SIPCW and so many others for all their work thus far and to come.”

“By working together with partners across Staten Island to address this urgent issue, we can shape a healthy future for our children, and reverse the rising rates of obesity in our borough,” said Adrienne Abbate, Executive Director of the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness.  “Although this is a borough-wide initiative, the CWI will use data to target communities and neighborhoods that have higher need and poorer health outcomes.”

By 2026, the CWI aims to improve child health and wellness on Staten Island by:

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

The CWI’s progress will be measured by changes in BMI over time in Staten Island children.

Today’s event featured an array of speakers and presenters from across New York. Deputy Mayor Dr. Herminia Palacio and Dr. Abigail Velikov from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene spoke about the issue of obesity and presented the problem from a medical standpoint. Meghan Rossi, co-founder and chief operations officer of Moral Kings, discussed the importance of partnerships with parents and businesses. Staten Island Borough President James S. Oddo shared his support for the initiative in the closing remarks.

The CWI is actively seeking partners and funding to implement the blueprint across Staten Island. To make a donation, visit the CWI’s fundraising website. To learn more about the CWI and how you can get involved, visit


“We are proud to stand with Staten Island Borough President Oddo and the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness to support the Child Wellness Initiative and its mission to improve the quality of life for the young residents of Staten Island. The launch is an exciting addition to the roster of Global Running Day events in Staten Island, which includes an NYRR Open Run at Silver Lake Park,” said Mike Schnall, vice president of community engagement initiatives at New York Road Runners. “Since 1999, New York Road Runners has offered free youth running programs to kids across the country and here in New York City’s five boroughs. We have seen firsthand the health benefits associated with getting kids active from an early age.”



The Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness is a non-profit organization established to promote wellness and to improve the health of the Staten Island community through collaboration and a multidisciplinary approach. For more than 20 years SIPCW has addressed critical public health issues such as obesity, chronic disease prevention and behavioral health on Staten Island. Over the span of the past two decades, SIPCW has successfully convened stakeholders, enabled data-driven decisions and identified evidence-based strategies to collectively approach complex health issues for at-risk communities on Staten Island.



Groups to NYC Council Members: Stop Alcohol Advertising to Kids on Public Transit

WASHINGTON, D.C. − New York City should protect public health and promote health equity by refusing to allow advertisements for alcohol from its public transportation system, said Public Citizen, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Center for Science in the Public Interest in a letter to New York City Council members today.

A letter was sent to each council member who has not yet signed on to co-sponsor Resolution 922-2015, which calls on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the governor and the state legislature to prohibit alcohol advertisements on subways, buses and other New York City Transit property.

According to research published earlier this month in the Journal of Urban Health, advertisements for unhealthy foods and beverages, including alcohol, in Bronx subway stations are more likely to be found in Bronx neighborhoods with higher rates of poverty, lower educational attainment, higher percentages of black and Hispanic residents, and more children.

“Alcohol and junk food companies are using the New York City public transportation system to target people of color and low-income residents who often lack access to healthy food options or health resources,” said Kristen Strader, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert program. “It is unethical for the MTA to hold children and youth as a captive audience for alcohol advertisers, considering that underage drinking is one of the leading causes of injury and death among young people.”

Hundreds of thousands of children and youth use the New York City subway to get to and from school every day.

“It’s unconscionable to think that children riding the bus or subway to and from school are subjected to ads that glorify and encourage drinking of alcoholic beverages,” said David Monahan, campaign manager of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “Research shows these ads work on young people − all too well − and lead to underage drinking and a host of health and social consequences. We urge the New York City Council to join the long list of cities that protect kids from seeing alcohol ads on public transit.”

Michael Jacobson, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, added, “With alcoholism such a problem in New York, the city should be fighting it at every turn and not abetting it.”

Read the letter.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to Host Staten Island Roundtable Discussion on Pain Medication

SIPCW Executive Director Adrienne Abbate to Participate in Discussion about Overprescribing

STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK (August 8, 2016) – It is a story that has afflicted countless Staten Islanders: following an injury or accident, a person is prescribed and takes pain medication for acute pain that results in opioid addiction. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is working to prevent situations like this across America in the future.

On Tuesday August 9, 2016, Gillibrand will host a roundtable discussion at St. John’s University’s Staten Island campus focusing on U.S. Senate bill S. 2567, the Preventing Overprescribing for Pain Act, which would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue guidelines for the safe prescribing of opioids for the treatment of acute pain. Gillibrand is the cosponsor of this bipartisan legislation, along with Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

Adrienne Abbate, Executive Director of the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness and the project director of the Tackling Youth Substance Abuse (TYSA) coalition, was invited to participate in the discussion and offer her expertise and insight into this problem.

“We know that opioid dependence often starts with a prescription from a physician,” said Abbate. “Providing prescribers with resources to effectively treat acute pain and screen for potential addiction risk factors is a prevention strategy that we have been advancing at the local level. We applaud Senator Gillibrand for advocating for updated CDC guidelines to bring relief to this national epidemic.“

The CDC’s current guidelines focus solely on chronic pain, and do not offer guidance on acute pain. Many individuals become addicted to opioids after taking prescriptions for acute pain, following common injuries, accidents or minor surgery, such as breaking a bone or getting wisdom teeth extracted.

The bill was included in the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016, which the Senate HELP Committee (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) passed unanimously in April 2016. Nonetheless, the bill has not come for a vote on the Senate floor, despite support from a plethora of healthcare and addiction organizations, including Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America.

The roundtable will take place at 10am on the Grymes Hill campus.

SIPCW Awarded Take Care New York 2020 Grant for Stapleton and Park Hill Communities

STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK (Aug. 19, 2016) – The Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness (SIPCW) was one of eight organizations across New York City selected to receive a Take Care New York (TCNY) 2020 grant from The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) and the Fund for Public Health in New York, the Department of Health announced yesterday.

TCNY2020 is New York City’s blueprint for giving every New Yorker a chance to live a healthy life, with the goal of improving the community’s health and to make greater strides in groups with the worst health outcomes, so that New York City becomes a more equitable place for everyone. As a TCNY Planning Partner, SIPCW will develop neighborhood health action plans and engage community stakeholders in the health planning process in the Stapleton and Park Hill communities of Staten Island.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to convene community members in Stapleton and Park Hill, and to assist in empowering Staten Islanders to address their most urgent health issues,” said Adrienne Abbate, Executive Director of SIPCW. “We were pleased that DOHMH conducted community consultations across Staten Island to hear firsthand about neighborhood level health issues. This grant will provide needed resources to build on this work with community partners.”

“Borough Hall has been committed to improving the health of Staten Islanders who want to live healthier lives since I took office,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. “These grants are an essential step to educating the community and activating additional programs to help people live healthier lives. The Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness has been a partner of ours on many fronts and I’m confident in their ability to really foster change.”

SIPCW participated in a competitive request for proposal process in June. Eight community-based organizations were awarded grants of $50,000 to develop health action plans for a different New York City neighborhood with a high burden of poor health outcomes.

While SIPCW will be focused on Stapleton and Park Hill, the organization was pleased to find out that another Staten Island-based community organization, Project Hospitality, was awarded a grant for the Mariners Harbor and Port Richmond neighborhoods, Abbate added.

“Staten Island has some of the highest rates of smoking, chronic diseases and mortality in the city. With no public hospital in the borough, the need for preventive health initiatives is especially acute. This initiative aims to create a community action plan that will improve the health of Staten Islanders, enlisting the expertise of Project Hospitality and the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness,” said Councilwoman Debi Rose. “This grant will enable these groups to build on the good work they do in our borough and further improve the health of the Staten Island community.”

In September, SIPCW and community partner Island Voice will convene community members from Stapleton and Park Hill to prioritize the number one issue impacting health in their neighborhoods. Later in the fall, the groups will reconvene to choose interventions to address the identified health priority and will explore methods for securing resources and steps for implementation.

“This grant is an opportunity to empower neighborhoods to take ownership of health issues and drive solutions collectively,” said Bobby Digi, Founder and Executive Director of Island Voice.

More information about the Take Care New York 2020 can be found at


The Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness is a non-profit organization established to promote wellness and to improve the health of the Staten Island community through collaboration and a multidisciplinary approach. For more than 20 years SIPCW has addressed critical public health issues such as obesity, chronic disease prevention and behavioral health on Staten Island. Over the span of the past two decades, SIPCW has successfully convened stakeholders, enabled data-driven decisions and identified evidence-based strategies to collectively approach complex health issues for at-risk communities on Staten Island.

Additional Quotes from DOHMH

“Take Care New York is the City’s blueprint for a healthier city, and these awards will facilitate planning to improve health in neighborhoods that need it the most,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “TCNY Planning Partners will help ensure critical community input as we pursue the TCNY 2020 goals across the city. We look forward to working with these community-based organizations to make every neighborhood a healthy neighborhood.”

“We want New Yorkers to have ownership in developing health initiatives that speak to the specific interests of their community,” said First Deputy Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “This phase of community engagement will help catalyze change by bringing together community stakeholders invested in building healthier neighborhoods.”

Letter to the Editor: Combatting Overdoses in Staten Island Public Restrooms

If you’ve been paying attention, this week wasn’t the first time you saw a tragic headline about a heroin or opioid overdose in a restroom on Staten Island. At Tackling Youth Substance Abuse (TYSA) we have been following trends and data, and have noted the uptick of (often fatal) overdoses in both public and business restrooms.

Staten Islanders Urged to Include Behavioral Health in their New Year’s Resolutions

Does your New Year’s resolution include dropping a few pounds, exercising, dieting and improving your physical health? You are not alone. Each year individuals ring in the New Year with a promise to take better care of their health. While we hear these physical health resolutions frequently, it is rare, however, to hear a New Year’s resolution about improving your mental health.
This month, the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness (SIPCW) and the Staten Island Paid Provider System (SI PPS) are asking Staten Islanders to think beyond physical wellness by including mental health in their New Year’s resolutions.

Follow SIPCW and SI PPS on Facebook for more information.

TYSA Reminds Staten Islanders to Dispose of Unused Prescriptions on National Drug Take Back Day

On Saturday, October 22 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will celebrate National Drug Take Back Day to remind the public to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.

Why Governor Cuomo’s Legislation Matters in Staten Island’s Fight against Heroin

By: Adrienne Abbate

Yesterday, I proudly stood by Governor Andrew Cuomo at the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island as he signed new legislation to combat heroin and prescription opioid abuse in New York State. By all accounts it was an historic day in our battle to end the opioid epidemic.

Today, after seeing many comments by Staten Islanders questioning the efficacy of this legislation, I wanted to share why this comprehensive package is important to our borough, to the state and to the entire nation.

Several months ago, Governor Cuomo announced the launch of a statewide Heroin Task Force, comprised of healthcare providers, parents, recovering New Yorkers, advocates and educators. I, as project leader for the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness’s Tackling Youth Substance Abuse (TYSA) initiative, along with Staten Island District Attorney, Michael McMahon, sat on this task force and gave our recommendations on expanding awareness of opioid addiction, enhancing statewide prevention efforts, increasing access to treatment, and improving support for those in recovery.

I’m proud to say that Governor Cuomo took each and every one of our recommendations seriously and made an important step forward in addressing these critical problems. Here are three reasons why yesterday’s bill signing will make a difference in our community:

1) It Eliminates Insurance Barriers to Addiction Treatment

If you’ve ever dealt with an insurance issue, you know how burdensome the process to obtain approvals can be. For those who are seeking opioid treatment, every minute is critical and can mean the difference between life and death. This legislation requires insurers to cover necessary inpatient services for the treatment of substance use disorders for as long as an individual needs them.
When trying to obtain medication to manage withdrawal symptoms or maintain recovery, patients are seeing similar roadblocks. A prior approval must be obtained to receive this medication, which stops medication access to those trying to get help. This legislation prohibits insurers from requiring prior approval.

We’ve seen great success with naloxone, the anti-overdose spray, which saved three individuals experiencing overdoses in a span of 12 hours by Staten Island first responders earlier this month. This new legislation requires insurance companies to cover the costs of naloxone when prescribed to a person who is addicted to opioids and to family members on the same insurance plan. It also expands the restrictions on trained professionals who can administer the life-saving treatment.

2) It Expands and Enhances Opioid Treatment

Currently, individuals who are looking for treatment are provided with 48-hours of short term help. However, members of the task force felt that 48-hours was far too short to stabilize opioid users and, more importantly, find them long-term treatment options. This legislation will expand emergency treatment to 72 hours, and allocates funding to add 270 treatment beds and 2,335 opioid treatment program slots across the state.

Upon discharge after emergencies, hospitals will now be required to follow-up with individuals with nearby treatment options to provide continuous care. Furthermore, for individuals leaving treatment, the legislation extends the wraparound program to provide services to support long-term recovery. When individuals leave treatment, they are at a great risk for relapse. By providing education and employment resources, legal resources, childcare and peer support groups, we are helping those New Yorkers who finished treatment stay on the path to healthy living.

3) Most Importantly, It Will Help Prevent Opioid Addiction Before it Starts

To prevent opioid addiction, we have to reduce unnecessary access to it. On Staten Island and across the country, we’ve seen a simple prescription for pain medication spiral into heroin addiction. The legislation lowers the limit for opioid prescriptions for acute pain from 30-days to no more than a 7-day supply. If you suffer from chronic pain and other conditions, this will not affect your access.

This legislation will also help educate healthcare providers on opioid addiction. Pharmacists, who play a critical role in the fight against opioid addiction, are now required to provide easy to understand information on risks associated with these drugs. Additionally, all physicians and prescribers will be required to complete three hours of education every three years on addiction, pain management, and palliative care.

As someone who has seen the opioid and heroin problem escalate in our borough, and have witnessed so many of my fellow Staten Islanders seek help to no avail, I truly believe this legislation will aid in the prevention, recovery and support of the addicted. It is my hope that this legislation will be the beginning of the end of this crisis, and that the rest of the nation will follow New York State’s example.

Adrienne Abbate is executive director of the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness. Throughout her career in the public health sector, Ms. Abbate has been a prominent advocate for substance abuse prevention and treatment. She is currently the Project Director of the Tackling Youth Substance Abuse (TYSA), a cross sector coalition aimed at leveraging the power of collective impact to improve health outcomes for Staten Island youth.