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Harlem students get schooled on healthcare by EmblemHealth and GrowNYC

Kori Tuitt | 6/20/2012, 12:09 p.m. | Updated on 7/3/2013, 10:52 a.m.
Zumba

Nearly 40 seventh-grade students from the Future Leaders Institute got a health lesson outside of the classroom on Thursday, June 13. EmblemHealth and GrowNYC teamed up to present an event to make students aware of their health.

The students entered the EmblemHealth Neighborhood Care lobby at 215 W. 125th St. to find water and fresh fruit to snack on. After touring Emblem, the students were supposed to proceed to the GrowNYC Columbia Greenmarket to use their newly learned knowledge to purchase their own healthy foods, but that portion was cancelled because of the rainy weather.

Christa Hill, Emblem’s community liaison for Harlem, and Susie Flores, a health care solutions specialist at Emblem, hosted the event. This was the first time young students were invited for a tour of the facility.

“One of my goals is to bring as many kids as possible and show them how many things we have to offer,” Hill said. “We can offer a whole lot to the community.”

Flores stood in front of three large touch-screen computers against the wall to show the students what they can do on the website www.WebMD.com. On the first screen, Flores showed them a health quiz called “What’s in Your Food?” The second screen showed the upcoming events and classes Emblem will be hosting in Harlem, and on the third screen was another quiz called “What’s in Your Fast Food?”

While a couple of students also demonstrated how to play the Xbox Kinect, which allows players to “be the controller” by moving their bodies, other students calculated their body mass index.

Flores volunteered to host the event and was pleasantly surprised to hear that the Future Leaders Institute would be coming. She was a part of the school’s first graduating class in 2004.

“I was pretty excited because I didn’t know they were coming. It’s nostalgia—bringing back memories,” Flores said. “I was also very impressed by how much they know about the diseases that affect them.”

After heading up to the second floor, the students were surprised with a Zumba class. Antonia L’homme led the class and incorporated her workouts for asthmatics, like herself.

With “Jump” by RDX blaring through the speakers, the kids smiled, laughed and danced enthusiastically in their school uniforms. Even their teachers joined in. L’homme said she loved seeing that the kids were having a good time.

“I thought the trip was fun,” said 13-year-old Kayan Matoo. “[I] got a little workout, and I might practice this at home.”

Many students said they were surprised by how engaged they were at Emblem.

“I expected the trip to go by fast. I didn’t think I’d be interested, and I didn’t know it was this close and I could come here by myself,” said Jada Williams, 13. “It was a very good experience, and I’m going to try to carry on a more healthy life.”

Their English teacher, Jennifer Nelson, said she hopes the students will remember the important messages of the trip.

“I hope the ideas about eating healthy and moving their body resonate in their day-to-day life,” Nelson said. “I hope they do make that effort.”