There was lots of excitement in honor of Family Health and Fitness Day, which was held at BMCC on Wednesday, November 10th as part of CUNY Month. This year’s theme is “Breaking Boundaries” in health and science careers.
Numerous health-oriented activities were held in the BMCC Lobby, Richard Harris Terrace, outside of Theatre 2, and the third floor lobby.
All afternoon, the campus was packed with children, students, community members and staffers who wanted to learn more about health and wellness education.
As soon as guests entered the main building, they were given a healthy gift bag and information about the event’s big raffle—a chance to win a Red Nintendo Wii.
The Red Nintendo Wii isn’t just any video game console. Approved by the American Heart Association (AHA), the Wii’s physical activities and games promote physically active play as part of a healthier lifestyle.
Kimberlee Gonzalez, a Childhood Education major, was one of the many CUNY Month volunteers. She greeted guests, told them about the raffle, and answered questions about Family Health and Fitness Day and BMCC.
“Because I love BMCC, I wanted to volunteer for this event to help other students obtain information about health,” she said. “As someone who will be working with children in the future, I feel it’s important for kids to get out there; be active. It’s good for the mind and body…instead of staying inside and playing video games all day.”
Smiling, and remembering the shiny game console box on the table in front of her, she exclaimed, “Except for the Wii! Now, that gets kids moving.”
Kids and adults, of course. At one point, a Wii was set up in the cafeteria, and students took turns dancing along with the on-screen videos. Holding blue and orange pom-poms, even members of the already spirited BMCC Cheerleading Club hip-hopped along with Wii’s “Just Dance.”
As she surveyed the crowd, Gonzalez said, “I just love the energy here."
More than 20 booths were set up in the main lobby and third floor. Some were directly part of BMCC—such as the Department of Student Life, whose staffers handed out stress balls—and some were part of the community at large, showcasing the many services they had available for BMCC students.
Ermelinda Centeno, an Executive Assistant at ACCESS Community Health Center, had a booth set up outside Richard Harris Terrace. ACCESS helps provide comprehensive, culturally competent, quality health care to everyone, including NYC’s most vulnerable people, regardless of ability to pay. “We offer a variety of health services,” she said. “A lot of students have been picking up our brochures and pamphlets.”
Richard Perez, a health educator at the Young Men’s Clinic, an affiliate of NewYork-Presbyterian Ambulatory Care Network, also had a booth.
“We’ve gotten some great feedback thus far—a lot of men say they didn’t know about us,” he said. “We’re a friendly health clinic where men can receive the right information about health, in a comfortable environment, with health educators they can look up to, and relate to.”
Another guest was The Whole Foods Market, whose booth was situated in front of Theatre 2. Representatives from The Whole Foods Market discussed their ANDI nutrition rating system; while distributing healthy salads, apple cider and green smoothies.
Implemented at Whole Foods stores nationwide, the ANDI system (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) is a part of a bigger initiative by Whole Foods, entitled Health Starts Here, which encompasses not just making healthy food available, but also providing education on what to do what with that food.
“We reached out to anyone we had a relationship with in the past, and we had a tremendous response” said Penelope Jordan, Director of Health Services, who helped facilitate Family Health and Fitness Day along with CUNY Month Committee Members and volunteers.
“Many organizations at the event are engaged in community outreach, especially when it comes to support for the disadvantaged,” said Jordan. “This is also the first year we’ve partnered with the Nursing Club, which is encouraging others to donate blood.
Donating blood and bone marrow
It was loud and lively outside, but all was quiet inside Richard Harris Terrace, where nurses from Elmont Hospital Center oversaw BMCC’s third blood drive of the year.
Nursing student Lorraine Williams was volunteering at the blood drive, dressed in BMCC scrubs.
“I give information to the donors as they come in, and T-shirts. We have juice and food for them, such as apples, because you need to eat before you donate blood,” she said. “To donate blood, there are some health requirements. For example, you can’t be on antibiotics, you have to be tattoo-free within the past year, and you can’t have a low iron count.”
Williams herself donated blood for the first time. “It was fine” she said of the experience.
Outside Richard Harris Terrace was the Be the Match Registry, the National Marrow Donor Program that helps patients afford transplants, find a matching donor and build a future as we advance medical research advances.
“Over the year, we’ve had an increase in the number of donors for bone marrow and blood,” said Penelope Jordan.
Physical exercise draws crowds
The interactive, physical activities were popular with visitors. Besides the Wii station, there was Double Dutch, Hula Hoops, Zumba and more.
“I think of this as retro day. We’re featuring activities we used to do as children, such as jumping rope or Hula Hooping,” said Jordan. “Now we have Zumba, and are showcasing it to children and the BMCC community, since it encourages active movement.”
Wearing BMCC T-shirts, under the guidance of Althea Barnes (“Miss Tiah”), children from the Early Childhood Center engaged in the lively dance of Zumba, just outside Richard Harris Terrace.
Some parents participated in Zumba as well, jumping up and down and shaking their hips with their kids. For all their hard work, the children were rewarded with a visit from a clown, received balloons, and had their faces painted.
SGA Senator Jamell Henderson gave Hula-Hooping a shot. “It was fun,” he said of the activity, picking up one of the many Hula Hoops available for use. “I like to dance, and Hoola-Hooping feels like dancing.”
Even Marva Craig, Vice President of Student Affairs, joined in the fun, showcasing her impressive Hula Hoop skills to the audience.
“She was fabulous—Off the hook!” said Henderson.
Jumping rope for the heart, mind
Carletta Pogue, an Office Assistant in the Bursar, couldn’t resist the jump ropes on display. “I Double Dutched all the time as a kid! It’s what we all did,” she explains, laughing. “It’s even more fun to Double Dutch in the boots I’m wearing,” she joked.
In Double Dutch, two long jump ropes turn in opposite directions, and are jumped by one or more players simultaneously.
Pogue, who jumps ropes often as part of her fitness regimen, likes that the activity works out “the entire body, and really strengthens the legs. And it’s good for the mind because the hardest part of Double Dutch is actually getting into the ropes.
The Health Careers Expo
Up on the third floor, visitors could find the Health Careers Expo coordinated by the Career Development Office, which allowed students to explore careers in the field of health science.
“Because this is also National Career Development Month, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to offer an activity aligned with what the college is doing,” said Melba Olmeda, Director, Center for Career Development. “After all, our slogan is ‘Start Here, Go Anywhere’ and students can pursue many careers in the health industry—and we’re here to help them.”
Student/SGA Senator Jamell Henderson was quite impressed with Family Health and Fitness Day. “It’s important to see this happening, and it’s great. It’s a stress relief for students who just wrapped up, or have, midterms,” he said. “And all these interactive activities—Hula-Hooping, the jump ropes, and the dancing—makes you feel energized. We should have events like this more often at BMCC.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Special thanks to those who made this event possible, and not mentioned in this article: Angela Sales, Director of Community and Government Relations; Diana Zechowski, Staff, President’s Office; Cecilia Scott-Croff, Executive Director, Early Childhood Center; Claudette Jordan, Assistant Director; Early Childhood Center.