2007-05-18 / Community

Sanders Sets New Health Program For Rockaway

By Miriam Rosenberg

St. John's Episcopal Hospital staff members watch, as Councilman Sanders is the first to weigh-in during the announcement for the new "Rockaway Walks" program. St. John's Episcopal Hospital staff members watch, as Councilman Sanders is the first to weigh-in during the announcement for the new "Rockaway Walks" program. Twenty-six percent of Rockaway residents are obese according to recent statistics released by the New York Department of Health.

Additional statistics reveal a high death rate for Rockaway (9.72 per 1,000 people), a high rate of those living on the peninsula with HIV/AIDS and high rates of Diabetes among local residents.

City Councilman James Sanders, who does not like those statistics, plans to do something to change them and make Rockaway residents healthier.

With the beach as his background and a scale by his side, Sanders announced a new initiative to combat the health problems in the Rockaways.

"America is at war…we see the enemy everyday when we look in the mirror and walk past the scale," said Sanders, as he stood on the promenade on Beach 11 Street. "There's something we can do about it - exercise."

"Rockaway Walks" is a new initiative meant to encourage people of all ages to join with their neighbors this summer in a community-wide effort to begin living more healthy lifestyles. It is led by Sanders and co-sponsored by a collaborative of health and civic organizations - St. John's Episcopal Hospital, Addabbo Family Health Center, JMB Nursing Services, Peninsula Hospital Center and Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation's Beacon School.

Lorraine Gabbola, the leader of the St. John's imaging department's biggest loser club, said "A little bit of exercise three times a week changes everything." Lorraine Gabbola, the leader of the St. John's imaging department's biggest loser club, said "A little bit of exercise three times a week changes everything." "We are committed to improving the health of the community," said Luis Hernandez, the CEO of SJEH. "We encourage people to make a lifestyle change."

Some of the staff of St. John's has already made lifestyle changes by joining Biggest Loser's Clubs at the hospital.

"If we are all in it together, it became a challenge," said Lorraine Gabbola, the leader of the club for SJEH's imaging department. "Everybody lost between two and 22 pounds. Alittle bit of exercise three times a week changes everything."

Included in those listening to the announcement of the new program is Zandra Meyers, the community relations director for Addabbo Health Center, Deerfield Civic Association's Barbara Smith and Harvey Gordon, the executive director of the Jewish Community Council of the Rockaway Peninsula. Included in those listening to the announcement of the new program is Zandra Meyers, the community relations director for Addabbo Health Center, Deerfield Civic Association's Barbara Smith and Harvey Gordon, the executive director of the Jewish Community Council of the Rockaway Peninsula. Last year the Addabbo Health Center led a summer-long program to fight obesity called "Lite'n Up Rockaways."

"Obesity is the most important issue confronting the Rockaway community," said Dr. Peter Nelson, the executive Director at the Addabbo Health Center. "It will take all of us to be successful at [beating] it."

Nelson pointed out that 75 percent of the community is either overweight or morbidly obese. "The medical community has traced 45 different diseases to obesity," Nelson said. "It has a tremendous impact on Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, issues with the heart, and breast cancer."

To kick-off the new "Rockaway Walks" program, on June 2 Rockaway will literally walk. Community residents are invited to meet on the promenade on Beach 11 Street and Seagirt Boulevard (by the handball courts) for a light breakfast at 8 a.m. At 9 a.m., they will join Sanders and representatives from the participating organizations and walk from Beach 11 Street to Beach 25 Street and back. The event will also feature free health screenings, information about diet and entertainment by WBLS and Dr. Bob Lee.

Representatives of the organizations supporting "Rockaway Walks" join Sanders for a group photo. Representatives of the organizations supporting "Rockaway Walks" join Sanders for a group photo. In addition to weekly weigh-ins, there will be health education workshops to help residents meet their goals.

"JMB Nursing Services, partnered with Cornell University will present a series of workshops at St. John's Hospital," said Julia Blair, the president of JMB Nursing.

The first of eight workshops will take place on June 6 and every Wednesday afterward, except June 20. Among the topics are 'portion size versus serving size,' menu planning, the food pyramid/basic nutrition, food safety and exercise.

"It's free. All you have to do is show up," said Marilyn Water Courtney of Cornell University Cooperative Extension, who will be teaching the hour and a half workshops.

Residents will have a choice of two workshops - 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. or 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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