Health Commissioner Bassett and Chancellor Fariña Honor Schools and Students for Commitment to Wellness Programs

June 8, 2016 – The Health Department and Department of Education today honored more than 50 New York City elementary schools for their commitment to wellness programs and for fostering environments where students can learn and practice healthy living at the Excellence in School Wellness Awards. Creating stronger, healthier neighborhoods are key goals of the partnership between the Health and Education Departments, which engage schools around building a culture of wellness that can have a lasting impact on community health and education. The event recognized students and school officials for promoting healthier school environments and communities. Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña were joined by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams for the award ceremony at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

“Schools are pivotal spaces for students to learn about health and wellness,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “School officials that help students develop healthy habits teach lifelong lessons that will help young people build the foundation to lead healthy lives in the future. We are very proud of the work these schools are doing to improve school and community health.”

“The health and wellness of our students is a critical foundation for success in the classroom and beyond, and I’m proud of the dedication these schools have shown in promoting wellness in their communities, including a focus on participation in high-quality physical and health education instruction,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “The poster contest is a creative opportunity for students to show their peers across the City the importance of making healthy choices and being active.” 

“New York Road Runners is proud to be one of the community partners working with New York City’s Departments of Health and Education on behalf of our city’s youth,” said Michael Capiraso, president and CEO of New York Road Runners. “Our free youth running programs serve approximately 120,000 students in over 600 schools and community centers in NYC, enabling participants to improve their fitness, fight obesity, and build character, while helping program sites develop a culture of health and wellness. We salute the schools honored today, a number of which participate in our youth running programs, for their positive impact on the well-being of their students and communities.”

“The habits we learn as children establish a foundation for an active, healthy lifestyle that contributes to long-lasting emotional, mental, and physical fitness. The schools honored today have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to teaching their students the basic building blocks that allow them to grow into healthy New Yorkers,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “I am hopeful that their success will inspire other schools across Brooklyn and New York City to expand their focus to include the overall wellness of our youngest generation.”

Fifty-seven qualifying elementary schools from all five boroughs were honored based on six criteria, including physical activity, indoor active recess, healthier beverage choices, school-level wellness policies, wellness councils, and mental health. Working with community partners, such as Activity Works, the American Heart Association, Asphalt Green, Bronx Health Reach, CHALK, Food Fight, Healthy Schools NY, NY Road Runners and the United Federation of Teachers to enhance physical activity, healthy eating and school wellness policies, the award has expanded to elementary schools citywide and is open for all elementary schools to apply. More than 80 schools from all five boroughs applied for the award this year.

The NYC Excellence in School Wellness Award was launched in 2009 through the Health Department's Center for Health Equity’s Neighborhood Health Action Centers, formally known as District Public Health Offices, and neighborhood partners through NYC's former Strategic Alliance for Health to honor elementary schools for their efforts to create a healthier school environment as a way to prevent childhood obesity and improve academic achievement. The award recognizes the powerful impact that neighborhood schools can have on community health and serves as a launching pad for engaging schools around policies and practices that will encourage healthier behaviors within schools, families, and communities.

The Department of Education’s School Wellness Poster Contest was launched in 2009 to showcase the creative and artistic talent of students as they promote the importance of healthy eating, daily physical activity, and sufficient sleep. All New York City public school students in grades K through 12 were invited to submit poster designs, and the contest received more than 800 entries. Twelve winners and runner-ups were selected. The winning designs are displayed on calendars and posters in schools citywide, and on the DOE website.
For more information about the DOE’s School Wellness Programs, visit



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