By Madina Toure

A new type of school fair is seeking to encourage both healthy living and reading in Asian and Hispanic communities in Flushing that face a disproportionate concentration of health challenges.

Advocate Community Providers and Get Focused, two local organizations that are working to improve health throughout Queens, hosted the fair at PS 244, The Active Learning Elementary School at 137-20 Franklin Ave. The goal of the fair was to promote healthy minds and bodies through reading, exercise and healthy eating.

The joint campaign, dubbed “Get Focused on Reading,” is part of a series of community book fairs throughout New York’s public school system that seek to empower students by letting them “buy” their favorite books when they complete fitness challenges guided by certified trainers.

Moisés Pérez-Martínez, Advocate Community Providers’ director of workforce, community and government relations, said diabetes and obesity are serious illnesses that disproportionately affect underserved communities.

“At a time when the city is working to transform health care delivery to achieve improved care, better health outcomes and reduced costs, innovative initiatives and partnerships such as this are critical to our collective success,” Pérez-Martínez said.

At the event, students can shop from a selection of over 1,000 donated books, while parents can speak directly with local ACP network physicians about any health-related questions.

ACP brings together 2,000 individual, independent physicians with 950 hospital partners and community-based organizations that focus on health, wellness and social services in lower-income, underserved Hispanic, Asian and African-American communities throughout New York City.

Its network of physicians is responsible for the health of more than 200,000 Medicaid recipients in Queens, largely concentrated in Asian communities.

ACP and Get Focused are directing their efforts toward neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of severe health conditions as a way of addresssing the racial and ethnic disparities that afflict low-income and minority communities.

Goldin Martinez, founder of Get Focused, an organization founded in Washington Heights that offers free programs in fitness, education and community service, said the program seeks to demonstrate the importance of reading, exercise and community service to youth as well as catalyzing a movement in New York’s most unhealthy neighborhoods.

“Since our establishment in 2009, Get Focused has completed over two dozen free programs and events, impacting nearly 50,000 youth and we are excited to further our impact with the support of Advocate Community Providers,” Martinez said.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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