It was a lively scene at Clark Avenue School in Chelsea, Massachusetts on June 26, 2019. Children and families from surrounding neighborhoods poured into the newly renovated school building to celebrate the collaboration of three dynamic partners: The John Hancock Raising Healthy Hearts Program at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC), the Mass General Dietetic Internship Program, and the Healthy Chelsea Youth Food Movement Program. Healthy Chelsea is a community coalition, supported by the Mass General Center for Community Health Improvement.
The evening opened in the school gym. Children and parents participated in a series of fitness activities led by a team from Reebok’s Build Our Kids’ Success(BOKS) program. Once everyone had cooled down, they gathered in the cafeteria for a special welcome by pediatric cardiologist Puneeta Arya, MD, MBBS.
Dr. Arya is director of the John Hancock Raising Healthy Hearts program at MGHfC. Its goal is to help children and families facing challenges related to weight, abnormal cholesterol levels or family history of heart disease. Dr. Arya’s strong call to action for members of the collaboration: “Let’s continue to work together to raise some very healthy, very happy and very strong hearts!”
Students Talk About Food Justice
The celebration featured a series of interactive presentations by students of the Healthy Chelsea Coalition Youth Food Movement program.
The program is for high school students and is a paid internship with the coalition for the school year. Over the past year, the students met to discuss food and environmental justice challenges in Chelsea and identify solutions. They also worked on nutrition and food justice-based workshops with Mass General Dietetic Interns.
Children and parents took part in a series of fitness activities led by a team from Reebok’s BOKS program.
The Youth Food Movement presentations illustrated the types of workshops the students worked on during the year. Their compelling delivery triggered a lot of interaction across a very diverse and engaged audience. The program was translated into Spanish in real-time, and moderated by Ines Castro, health coach and essential member of the interdisciplinary team. A nutritious meal was provided for guests by Tawakal Cafe, the menu for which was selected by Youth Food Movement students.
Corporate Partners Support Healthy Families
Community partners have the opportunity to work together because of generous funding from the Trefler Foundation and John Hancock. Thomas Crohan, assistant vice president and counsel, John Hancock Corporate Responsibility and Government Relations, expressed his thanks at the event. “Thank you for welcoming us into your community,” he said. “We are proud to partner with Mass General on the Raising Healthy Hearts program. We are also proud of you for your focus on healthier lives for yourselves and your children.”
Jennifer Kelly, director of the Healthy Chelsea Coalition expressed her appreciation to the Trefler Foundation. “The students do the important work of creating peer to peer education,” she said. “This brings the youth voice to school food improvements and examines how food justice issues affect everyone in our community. This work would not be possible without the Trefler Foundation.”