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Rosedale school sets example with healthy habits

PS 159 in Rosedale is working to implement a wellness program for students, staff and parents in January. Photo by Rich Bockmann
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PS 195 in Rosedale is helping to lead the way in encouraging students, parents and teachers throughout southeast Queens to develop healthier habits.

The school recently received a $2,500 grant from the mayor’s Obesity Task Force Plan to develop new and practical ways to address the health and wellness education of the entire school community.

The school was also one of 17 across the city to receive an additional $500 to serve as a mentor to neighboring schools.

“We’re living in a fast-food society because we have so many working parents,” Principal Beryl Bailey said.

“We think it’s important children learn other eating habits,” she said. “If you teach children, they will learn those habits. I learned that with recycling.”

Bailey said the program will kick off in January with weekly Zumba and aerobics classes for parents and staff.

In the classroom, time will be dedicated for exercise, workshops on healthy eating and cooking.

Bailey said that for some students, wellness education starts from the ground up.

“For instance, we show them what a carrot looks like out of a package,” she said. “Most children only know what packaged food looks like.”

The school will also partner with the Food Bank for New York City, which provides hands-on cooking activities in classrooms through its CookShop program.

“Children don’t like a lot of different things,” Bailey said, “so we try to get them to think of healthier ways of eating by giving them food supplies to take home.

City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott praised the 125 schools citywide that submitted winning applications for the grants.

“Schools have an important role to play in educating students about the importance of physical activity, nutrition and good health, and school wellness councils can help support these efforts for the entire school community,” he said. “Research increasingly shows a connection between fitness, good health and academic achievement. A healthy lifestyle helps our students succeed in school and in life.”

Bailey said the school recently applied for a grant that would help build a garden at the school to teach students where healthy eating begins.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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