Nice positive News for the future

Posted in: NAP- Neighborhood Alliance of Pawtucket
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Jenks kicks off nutrition program E-mail

on 11-12-2009 00:24  



PAWTUCKET  ---  When asked how it felt to be embraced by “Pat Patriot,” the official mascot of the New England Patriots, Jenks Junior High School eighth-graders Kanisha Coar and Tateana Sena admitted they were shocked and thrilled.

“That's so exciting! I didn't know 'Pat' was going to be here, and I'm psyched because I'm a huge Patriots' fan,” gushed Sena, just one of 400 seventh- and eighth-graders invited to take part in an interactive school assembly entitled “Fuel Up to Play 60” inside the gymnasium Tuesday.
Pure and simple, the program – sponsored by the New England Dairy & Food Council and the National Football League – is a national youth-led initiative that allows children to work together to identify new, creative ways to offer more nutrient-rich foods in school and at home. Those items would include low-fat and fat-free dairy products, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, not to mention spending 60 minutes per day pursuing their favorite physical activities.
“The initiative is aimed at tackling the sedentary lifestyles and poor nutrition that have helped spur the current child health and nutrition crisis,” said Amanda Aldred, school nutrition specialist for the New England Dairy & Food Council. “Participating schools and youth get in-school promotional materials, healthy eating and physical activity strategies and access to
“What we're doing is providing the schools with the tools and resources they need to make changes,” she continued. “We want them to increase the availability and consumption of all the food groups. For the most part, cafeterias do those things, offering healthy options, but some children don't accept them as often as they should.”
Stated Sena: “I'll become a 'Fuel Up' member because I want a healthy lifestyle. If I join, I'm only going to be in better shape … Some kids may not be into it, but I would tell them, 'Hey, it's your loss. It's not boring or stupid, but cool.' I'm going to tell my friends it's something worthwhile.”
That's just the message School Nurse Linda Mendonca and Family & Consumer Science teacher Jackie Haynes, who lead this program at Jenks, had hoped to inject into their students.
Haynes indicated a grant she wrote to the Dairy & Food Council a few months ago has paid dividends, as she discovered $1,000 had been earmarked for the program at Jenks, one of dozens of schools region-wide to take part.
“We started a physical activity program a few years back, where students were allowed to come into the gymnasium before school and play basketball or toss a football – in fact, we even had guest speakers on kick boxing and boxing,” Haynes noted. “Then the kids could go to a universal, free breakfast, including something warm, like a bagel, or cold cereal, and also juice and milk.
“When I wrote the initial grant, our goal was to reach out to more students so breakfasts would be available to them through most of the morning,” she added. “Linda, as the school nurse, sees it everyday – students complaining of headaches and stomach aches, in part, because they haven't eaten since the night before. They're just out of gas.
“My first class every day is from 8:10-9 a.m., and those kids have the last lunch, which is 12:30. I usually give them a snack of peanut butter crackers. I mean, what better? A carbohydrate and a protein. That'll get them going and ready to learn.”
Haynes, Mendonca and Haynes' homeroom partner, Raina Lupien, asked children to register for organizing advisory teams for the project. The “J” team consisted of Mackenzie Plante, Dan Carmen and T'Sarah Lindell; the “E” grouping Melissa Ocampo, Juliana Calle and Valeria Serna; the “N” squad of Ashley Correia and Christopher Giron; and the “K” team Angela Dossantos, Gelson Ruiz and Lou Gomez.
“They talked with physical education teachers, the lunchroom workers and their families as to what healthy foods should be available, and we gathered all that information,” Haynes stated. “We decided we were going to focus on breakfast, as that's the most important meal of the day. They also put up posters, and decided what snack they would have as the kids walked into the gymnasium.”
The unanimous vote: a small bag of multi-grain Sun Chips (Harvest Cheddar flavor, with 160 calories, 60 from fat) with a box of orange juice.
“These kids do have some really healthy lunch choices – fresh fruits and veggies – so that's happening, and the culture is starting to change, but it's still a work in progress,” Mendonca said. “I actually had a University of Rhode Island nursing student doing a clinical with me, and kids were always complaining of headaches, stomach aches. I'd ask them if they had had breakfast, and they said “No,” that they didn't have time. That's why we've targeted breakfast. We're in the planning process of making breakfast available to as many students as possible.”
Mendonca also said the student teams have helped Jenks become a healthier institution, but there are more steps to take.
“This isn't just for you students, but also the teachers, staff and others who work here,” she said during her presentation. “You have to make a pledge to eat more healthy foods and play at least 60 minutes every day. It doesn't have to be all at once. You can take 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there.”
The youngsters are allowed to register for the program on-line at school. There they may track their individual progress in daily healthy eating and physical activity habits, and compete against other schools' students to potentially win stellar prizes.
Several kids who had taken part in the school's current “Get Up & Go” before-school program for one month were issued backpacks. Haynes said more prizes are to be had for those who register for “Fuel Up to Play 60.”
“Obviously, we're not going to reach everybody, but if we get 75 percent of these kids to join up, I'd be thrilled,” Haynes stated. “Still, I'm aiming for 100 percent. Hey, why not aim high? There's no charge for dreaming.”
Said Coar: “I'm definitely into this. This tells kids how to be active for 60 minutes. It's really important because food and exercise is so good for your system ...I will say my favorite food is ice cream, but I'll have to replace it with salads and cauliflower. I know my diet needs improvement; I eat too much fast food.”
When Lindell found out about “Fuel Up to Play 60,” she jumped at the chance to become a student team member.
“It looked like a lot of fun, and I want myself and all my friends to be healthy so they can do well in class and sports,” she explained. “You can't live without good health, and our parents want us to be active, not lazy. Anybody who doesn't want to do this, it just doesn't make sense.”

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Great to see some inroads into healthy futures. Thanks

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Does this help us on the economic agenda too????


Diverse group lays groundwork for city's economic growth

'Non-political' committee will provide focus for development plans



By ETHAN SHOREY, Valley Breeze Staff Writer

PAWTUCKET - The city is primed and ready to take the next step in its economic rebirth, said a group of local businesspeople and professionals last week.

And that makes this the most important time in a long time for a clear focus and direction in bringing future vitality.

If the quality of the people assembled on the third floor at City Hall was a barometer for success, a new plan for focused economic development should live up to the lofty expectations this new ad hoc committee has set forth.

City leaders, businesspeople, planners, lobbyists and residents gathered for the first time as part of the newly formed City Council Economic Development Committee during a period in time they say shows a clear need for a public/private partnership in business development.

An improved business climate and job growth, in a city with one of the highest jobless rates in the state, are pivotal to the future of Pawtucket, said committee members.

Led by City Councilor Albert Vitali Jr. as chairman, and Councilor Jean Philippe Barros, members of the council's Economic Development Committee plan to be a "go-between" when developers approach city officials with their proposals and a "catalyst" in seeing those projects through to completion.

"This committee is sorely needed," Vitali told The Valley Breeze. "Everyone's over here, over there, doing their own thing."

Committee members will hear presentations from developers, answer questions and concerns, and make recommendations to city officials on how best to proceed with each issue as it comes up.

Banking professionals, attorneys, developers, entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, heads of civic organizations, and members of the city's Planning and Redevelopment Office were all there last week to share both their frustrations with the past and hopes for the future of a city they love.

The city doesn't have "a vision, a master plan that the people can buy into," some said, which is why a "catalyst" group like theirs is needed.

Vitali said after last week's meeting that the council's new Economic Development Committee will be "non-political" in its work as members make suggestions to Mayor James Doyle's administration.

The city's ongoing conflict with developer Carpionato Properties over a hotel deal that went wrong on land off Division Street is a perfect example of why a committee like this one, with members who will listen to the developer's concerns and get as many questions answered as possible, is needed, according to Vitali. Meeting with a developer to answer his or her questions can be the difference in whether they come to Pawtucket to do business or not, he said.

Members of the Economic Development Committee will follow up last week's initial meeting with another next month to share at least two or three suggestions each on what the city needs to be doing to attract and keep new business.

Some goals of the committee, as detailed at its first meeting last week, include:

* Figuring out what Pawtucket's "brand" is and then marketing that brand throughout New England, the United States, and even globally;

"Pawtucket has a brand, but we just have to set that forth and market it," said Lenny Lopes, a Providence attorney who lives in Pawtucket's Bayley Lofts.

* Creatively helping those looking to do business in the city to get the capital they need for their projects, perhaps even incorporating more tax incentives;

At least four property owners in the city's downtown are currently ready to go on development projects, according to Thomas Mann, executive director of the Pawtucket Foundation, but a continued lack of access to the financial capital needed to move forward is hampering their efforts.

* And streamlining the approval process for those seeking to do business in a difficult financial climate, among others.

Last week's meeting marked a return of a City Council Economic Development Committee that last met six years ago under then-City Council President Donald Grebien.

At the time, said Vitali, the committee "seemed to be helping" efforts to attract economic growth, but then the committee was dissolved with a new council slate in place.

Members of today's committee, one revived by City Council President Henry Kinch, aren't hampered by having to worry about their next election, according to Vitali, and can bring a certain level of coordination to sometimes fragmented economic development efforts.

Kinch has indicated that the committee, the only city-sponsored group working in such a capacity, will provide valuable input at a time it couldn't be needed more.

Numerous projects both in the planning and development stages across the city make this a crossroads for what the future Pawtucket will look like, say officials - and they'd better not mess it up.

Kevin Tracy, senior vice president with Bank of America and vice chairman of the Pawtucket Foundation, told his fellow committee members that local officials might do well to visit Manchester, N.H., where Bank of America has been part of an ongoing economic transformation.

The city will also be well served if leaders create short-term, medium-term and long-term goals for economic development, said Tracy.

"It needs to be in a coordinated and meaningful way," cautioned Mann.

Also on the 17-member City Council Economic Development Committee are resident Danielle Clark, Ronald Piatek, president of Piatek Machine Company Inc., Esselton McNulty, chief executive officer of the Pawtucket YMCA, Jack Gannon Esq., with the Pawtucket Credit Union, Herbert Weiss, economic and cultural affairs officer with the city's Department of Planning and Redevelopment, businessman Louis Yip, owner of the China Inn, John Galvin, chief financial officer for Collette Vacations, Barney Heath, assistant director of the city's Department of Planning and Redevelopment, Robert Andrade, chief operating officer and executive vice-president of the Pawtucket Credit Union, and a yet-to-be-named member.

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RI Department of Health Honors Pawtucket Police Chief Kelley for Work on HIV Prevention

Left to right: Paul Loberti, Julnelle Fortes, Chief George Kelley, and Felicia Delgado, Project RENEW Coordinator.

November 19, 2009 - Pawtucket Police Chief George Kelley was honored with a Leadership Award from the Rhode Island Department of Health's Community Planning Group for the Pawtucket Police Department's innovative and successful work in helping promote programs that educate high-risk women on HIV prevention.

Under Chief Kelley's leadership, the Pawtucket Police Department has participated in, and helped to fund, a groundbreaking partnership with Project RENEW - a community-based program housed at Pawtucket Citizens Development Corporation (PCDC) designed to help former prostitutes create new lives and new hope.  The working relationship between Project RENEW and the Pawtucket Police Department has been nationally recognized as breaking new ground in helping law enforcement connect with former sex workers and helping them rebuild and reshape their lives.  

Chief Kelly -- along with his police officers and Pawtucket Mayor Doyle - were recognized by the Rhode Island Department of Health for devoting hundreds of hours to the helping these women reconnect with the community and breaking down long held stereotypes and barriers along the way.  

Hats off to the Chief, his officers, Project RENEW and the Mayor for a job well done!

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