Bronx CAN Health Initiative

By Kinvelyn Guaba

The Bronx Journal Staff Writer

The Bronx CAN change its attitude now.

The Bronx CAN (Change Attitude Now) Health Initiative encourages people to stay healthy. “ Smaller portions, less salt, less sugar, more water and more exercise,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera at the Bronx CAN event last month at the St James Recreation Center on Jerome Avenue.

Rivera organized the Bronx CAN program with the help of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and many local Bronx organizations such as Montefiore and St Barnabas Hospitals, Harvest Home Farmers Market and Independence care system. The Bronx CAN program has been organizing events every month since June in some parts of the Bronx such as Kingsbridge Heights Community Center and St. James Recreation Center.  About 150 Bronx residents attend the events for a monthly check-up to know the status of their weight and their blood pressure. They also receive a 10-minute Zumba dance lesson, and they learn to cook healthy meals. “ I think it is a good because I don’t have insurance and I at least can get my blood pressure checked for free and know if I’m overweight or not,” said Carmen Davila, a 40-year-old Bronx resident who is looking forward to the next event.

“We started back in June. I spoke about it during the campaign,” said Rivera. “The Bronx is the unhealthiest county in New York. So I was thinking, what can we do to bring attention to that but actually do something about it? We started working very early on. I started putting together community programs and local elected officials like the Bronx borough president. Back in June I weighed 289 pounds. I said that my goal was to lose 20 pounds. So what can I do in my everyday life that other people can do and accept the challenge to be a little bit healthier? Because if we can be healthy as individual we can be healthy as a community.”

Rivera cited his political pal, Diaz, as an inspiration.

“He’s been very healthy, particularly the last couple of years,” Rivera said. “He takes his health very seriously because he wants to be there for his family and wants to be there for the Bronx as a whole. Ruben set an example for me. I want to be as healthy as he is.”

Rivera adds, “Change something of your life that enables you to be healthy.”

Bronx organizations like Montefiore Medical Center, St Barnabas Hospital, and Harvest Home Farmers Market educate the residents about healthy and unhealthy foods as well as informing them about the importance of exercise.

Nurses from the Montefiore Medical Center demonstrated how much sugar a soda bottle contains.  Doctors from St Barnabas Hospital helped with blood pressure, height measurement and weight. “Yes, this is a good idea,” said Saadia Fersobe, a 56-year-old nutritionist from St Barnabas Hospital. “I think we should also go to schools and do this. I see many kids just sitting on a couch playing video games and they don’t exercise. I’ve seen some kids with diabetes type 2 because of obesity,” she said.

Other organizations like Harvest Home Farmers Market informed the residents where to buy healthy foods. “Harvest Market, in partnership with Wholesome Wave, is sponsoring a double value program doubling the value of healthy bucks to give community members more buying power,” said Eleanor Leger, a representative from Harvest Home Farmers Market.

“It’s about accountability for a healthier and prosperous borough,” said Stephen Joseph Ritz, a Bronx CAN administrator.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *